Bulletin staff report

The baby otter the High Desert Museum received in May from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has been named Pitch.

The 26-week-old otter, which joined the museum’s two other otters, Brook and Rogue, in the museum’s otter exhibit, is “thriving” according to a news release. The museum auctioned off the animal’s naming rights at the High Desert Rendezvous fundraiser in August.

Wildlife staff raised Pitch “through bottle feedings and some sleepless nights,” doing “an incredible job,” the museum’s executive director, Dana Whitelaw, said in the release.

“They’ve spent a considerable amount of time with Pitch, even helping him learn how to swim, a skill he would have learned from a parent in the wild,” Whitelaw said.

A hiker found Pitch as a pup along the Metolius River in May and took it to a wildlife rehabilitator, the release said. A wildlife biologist and veterinarians with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife decided it would be best for Pitch to be placed permanently with the High Desert Museum.

But the museum reminds the public that finding a young animal alone in the wilderness “doesn’t necessarily mean that is has been abandoned,” the museum’s curator of wildlife, Jon Nelson, said in the release.

Adult animals usually leave their young in a secluded spot when they go to feed or rest, then return later return to check on the young or protect them from predators, the release said.

Hikers who find a young or injured animal should contact a local ODFW office or wildlife rehabilitator. A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators is available online at dfw.state.or.us or highdesertmuseum.org/injured-wildlife.

The Autzen Otter Exhibit was designed for three otters, and a recent renovation of the “Otter Space” included upgrades such as new pumps and filters, glass-viewing walls, interior exhibits, a mural and an otter slide. The updates have “greatly enhanced” the otters’ living space as well as visitors’ viewing experience.

For more information about Pitch or the Autzen Otter Exhibit, call the museum at 541-382- 4754 ext. 241 or visit highdesertmuseum.org/autzen-otter- exhibit.

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