The North American River Otter is native to Virginia and other Atlantic coastal states in the marshes and river systems. Historical records indicate that English settlers at Jamestown encountered many otters, and archaeological evidence dating to the Starving Time winter of 1609-10 suggests that they might have even consumed otters in desperation. River otters were also highly sought-after and prized for their thick pelts. Found in abundance between the 16th and 18th centuries, the North American River Otter was nearly extinct by the early 20th century as the European fur trade developed and grew. Thanks to wildlife conservation efforts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the otter population is almost fully restored, and these cute, playful mammals are again happy residents of Jamestown Island.