ODFW contacts

If you find what appears to be an orphaned animal, do not pick it up. Instead, contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Bend (541-388-6363) or Prineville (541-447-5111).

No matter how cute they might be, you’re really not supposed to pick up baby animals you find in the wild.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly what happened recently, and now the High Desert Museum in Bend has a brand new baby otter.

Museum spokesman Damian Fagan said the pup, a 3-pound male estimated to be around 7 weeks old, was found by a hiker walking along the Metolius River and Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. The hiker picked up the otter and contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which opted to turn over the animal to the museum rather than attempt to release it back into the wild, Fagan said Wednesday.

The museum’s two resident otters, Rogue and Brook, have not yet been introduced to the new arrival, and visitors to the museum won’t be able to see it yet.

Fagan said the pup is being bottle-fed and living in an enclosure adjacent to the main otter exhibit, where all three animals can see and smell each other. If it seems likely all three can get along, the young pup will be moved into the main exhibit with Rogue and Brook in the fall.

Fagan said the museum is holding off on naming the new otter until it’s clear it can be a permanent museum resident.

The museum’s Autzen Otter Exhibit underwent an extensive renovation a little over a year ago, the first major changes to the popular exhibit since the museum opened in 1983. The expanded exhibit was designed to accommodate three otters, but the museum had not yet started looking for a third otter.

People who find an animal in the wild that appears to be an orphan should resist the temptation to rescue it, Fagan said. Most likely, the animals’ parents are not far away.

If you come across a seemingly orphaned animal or an animal in distress, it’s best to contact ODFW, which can send out a trained wildlife expert to make a more informed assessment of what to do.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com

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