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River otter likely snuck through open gates to get to Vancouver koi pond

An otter is seen at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in this handout photo from security footage on Oct. 31, 2019. A Vancouver park board official says a hungry river otter following the scent of fresh koi fish likely scaled a fence or took advantage of a brief opening of gates at a downtown Vancouver garden pond to hunt its prey. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Park Board *MANDATORY CREDIT*

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver park board official says a hungry river otter following the scent of fresh koi likely scaled a fence or took advantage of a brief opening of gates at a downtown garden pond to hunt its prey.

Parks director Howard Normann says the arrival of a river otter to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden prompted immediate action to prevent carnage similar to last fall when an otter killed about a dozen large koi before escaping.

He says the recent discovery of six dead koi resulted in park officials draining the pond and removing several large koi and about 100 smaller ones to eliminate the food source and deter the otter from returning.

Normann says it’s difficult to determine if the otter is the same animal from last year, but it’s somewhat coincidental an otter returned to hunt in the gardens shortly after a nearby public fountain where it may have been living was shut down for the winter.

He says a 1.2-metre high plate-like barrier was placed on the two fenced entrances to the park last year and grates were installed in underground pipes leading to the gardens, but the otter still found its way inside.

Vancouver aquarium otter expert Dave Rosen says river otters are excellent hunters who are known to wander far inland in search of prey, which includes birds, rodents and other small animals.

The Canadian Press