It's man vs. otter, and the otter is winning

It's man vs. otter, and the otter is winning

SEATTLE -- The hunt is on in West Seattle's Alki neighborhood for an apparently destructive neighbor who has no regard for the rules of civilization.

Homeowner Bob Seefeld says his ill-mannered neighbor has been tearing Seefeld's place apart. The situation has gotten so bad, Seefeld says he's at his wit's end, trying to figure out how to stop the damage.

Seefeld does have an idea of what the culprit looks like. He looks something like this:

Yes, it is an otter that's at the center of Seefeld's problem. And it's no small problem.

Take a tour around Seefeld's home along Alki Beach, and you'll see where the suspected river otter has left his mark. And he's left several, from tearing through wooden fences to tearing apart the pump shed for the pool.

Seefeld says the cunning mammal that's creating so much mayhem is living under his house, constantly digging more holes, clawing through the insulation and planning new escape routes.

"Very smart. Very smart," he said.

Wildlife experts say it's not uncommon for otters to do this kind of damage, especially with mating season getting underway. But they can be difficult to corral.

That's why Seefeld is paying a contract nuisance trapper $500 to do the deed. A trap cage lies in wait, with cans of tuna as the bait.

A previous attempt to nap the critter did not go so well.

"He has a real long tail. So he did go into my trap up front, but he just ate the bait and left, because it was too short of a trap (for an animal) with that long tail," Seefeld said.

So far, nothing has managed to scare away the otter. It's already feasted on all the fish in Seefeld's koi pond.
 
Seefeld admits the aggravation has him thinking about doing some, well, not-so-nice things to the animal. Another rub: river otters apparently smell.

"The fellow who's renting from me says, 'Leave him alone, because he doesn't want him harmed.' I said, 'Hey, the damage he's causing! I don't care how he gets out of here,'" he said. "But the sooner I can get rid of him, the better."

If his trap doesn't work, Seefeld says, he's back to square one.

State wildlife officials say river otters are not specifically protected under law, but licensed trappers need to be called upon for the capture and removal of an otter.