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Specialist to oust koi-eating otter from Vancouver's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

Last Updated Nov 23, 2018 at 11:24 am PST

FILE: A river otter has been eating koi fish in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver. (Source: facebook.com/vancouverchinesegarden)

Wildlife relocation expert to be brought in to trap and relocate river otter at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

River otter to be relocated to the Fraser Valley, not Stanley Park as originally thought

Seven koi fish now missing, since otter arrived at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Park Board says it’s not a matter of if — but when — a river otter is humanely captured and safely removed from a tranquil garden where it has made a den and is rapidly munching through a stock of large and valuable koi carp.

The otter has gobbled up the chicken and fish that was left in one of several traps, but has managed to evade capture.

“A small jam underneath with a stick prevented the trap from closing,” Howard Normann with the Vancouver Park Board said, adding it’s time to move to Plan B.

Normann says the Ministry of Environment has advised they bring in a specialist to relocate the critter.

“A specialist who deals with otters and mink, raccoons — that sort of thing. I’ve been in contact with an individual. They’ll be here today, setting up a network of traps. They’re quite confident … that they’ll be able to capture the otter today or tonight, possibly.”

It was originally thought that the otter could be moved to Stanley Park, but those plans have changed.

“The Ministry of Environment has recommended we take the otter out to the Harrison River or the Chilliwack or the Campbell … they have a list of locations that they relocate to. This is for the best chance for a happy life for this otter. Lots of food, lots of friends.”

“I was told by the Ministry of Environment if we took this otter to Stanley Park or to Hinge Park, it would probably beat me back there. Now that it knows the fish are here, it would probably come back right away,” he added.

As of Thursday, six koi had been eaten. But it appears the otter has snacked on another.

“There were 14 large koi put back in the pond after it was rebuilt … I understand through the garden staff that they’re now down to seven. So we feel comfortable saying seven koi have been taken, so far,” Normann said.

Normann says he’s heard a lot of suggestions from the public in recent days.

“I’ve heard everything from ‘Why don’t you just shoot the otter?’ to ‘Why don’t you bring more koi here and just keep feeding the otter’ and everything in between. There’s a #TeamOtter. There’s a #TeamKoi.”

WATCH: Elusive Otter yet to be captured!

Koi began disappearing from the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in downtown Vancouver last weekend, just hours after someone took a photo of an otter scampering through the busy streets surrounding the walled park.

Normann says he’s spoken with people in the area, hoping to figure out how the animal got there. One theory is it was living at Andy Livingstone [Park], and came through False Creek

“There’s a container over there somewhere that they thought they spotted it under. We do have a pond with a waterfall at Andy Livingstone, but in the wintertime, due to the freezing of that pipe system, we do shut it off. That was shut off a week ago … It’s possible that the otter came that way.”

 – With files from Lasia Kretzel