ALBANY, Ill. (KWQC) – When you live in frigid water beneath a layer of thick ice, cuddling makes a lot of sense.
Wildlife photographer Jay Wolf of Whiteside County spotted a bevy of otters early Saturday morning frolicking along the Mississippi River in Albany.
“I saw the first one come out of the water and was already snapping pictures,” Wolf said. “Then came another and another.”
River otters were listed as a threatened species in Illinois in 1977 with fewer than 100 statewide by 1989, according the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
In the mid-90s, a total of 346 otters were captured in Louisiana ad released in southeastern and central Illinois.
Today, their population is thriving and the species is no longer listed as endangered or threatened.
Still, seeing a river otter or bevy of them in broad daylight is remarkable as they are most active at night.
There have been reports of them swimming up close to humans in boats or standing on the shore “because they're curious and near-sighted,” according to the IDNR.
Wolf is thrilled to have been in the right place at the right time with his camera.
“They are very playful animals,” Wolf says.
“They were only out of the water for very short time and back down the ice hole they went.”