Lutra canadensis, the Canadian or North American river otter could be described as the North American counterpart of the European otter. They do look essentially similar although you may notice that the Canadian otter appears a little larger than the European and also the hairless part of the nose is much larger and more rounded.
Historically this otter would range from arctic Alaska to the southern United States of Florida and Texas, inhabiting lakes, streams, coastal salt marshes and even rocky sea coasts in some areas. But today, their range and number are reduced because of environmental pressures particularly hunting and trapping.
Unlike its European cousin, the North American otter is classed as a fur bearer and are killed for the pelts in 25 states and in the late 1970`s over 20,000 otters a year were killed in the USA. In addition to the deliberate trapping of otters, many are taken as an indirect catch during beaver trapping, and as the majority of traps are indiscriminate, even those states protecting the otter suffer otter mortalities.
The Canadian otter was placed in Appendix II of C.I.T.E.S (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in 1977 which gives it potentially endangered status and all otter skins must be tagged before export. The majority are sent to Europe, where the local otter is protected!