Otter Dines at Fish Ladder

By Doug Greene
|  Tuesday, May 20, 2014  |  Updated 6:56 PM EDT
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A clever otter found its way inside the Occum dam's fish ladder, making hunting easy.

NBC Connecticut

A clever otter found its way inside the Occum dam's fish ladder, making hunting easy.

A camera DEEP uses to count fish at the Occum Fish Ladder in Norwich has been catching more than fish this week.

"Normally we see shad and alewife using the ladder and this year we had a surprise," said Chris Larose, operations manager for Norwich Public Utilities, owner of the Occum dam and powerhouse.  "We got an otter."

The otter has figured out it's easier to catch a fish in a four-foot-wide passageway than out on the Shetucket River.

"Right now he's been trying to get a trout up there," said Larose.  "He isn't impacting the fish going in as far as we know."

But he is impacting the number of fish going out as they head upstream over the fish ladder.

The Occum powerhouse churns out electricity from water hitting the dam.  The dam would block fish migrating upstream if the fish ladder hadn't been installed in 2005.

"Fortunately most of our fish pass during the day," said Larose.  "The otter is more of a nocturnal animal but he is getting fish up there."

World Fish Migration Day is Saturday, and Norwich Public Utilities will open its Greeneville Fish Lift to the public, among 15 welcoming the public that day in the state.  Some 500 shad have already made it through Greeneville, heading upstream toward Taftville and Occum.

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