Otters are currently increasing in number and distribution after a prolonged period of decline. They receive protection under both the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended) and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). Otters and their resting places are fully protected, it is an offence to deliberately, capture, injure or kill them or to damage, destroy or obstruct their breeding or resting places. It is also an offence to disturb otters in their breeding or resting places.
Given the increase in the distribution of the otter, general river quality cannot always be relied on as an indicator of presence or absence of the species. Otter surveys are now recommended where river banks and other riparian habitat are affected by development or river works.
Our surveyors adopt the following techniques:
- Walking river banks or wading along the river to look for signs of otters (spraints, footprints, holts). This could include walking past known holts and carrying out a brief exterior examination.
- Stopping to examine potential otter holts.
- Watching a holt from a distance or from concealment to see if it is occupied.
The information collected from otter surveys can make a positive contribution to nature conservation. In many cases surveys can be carried out without disturbing otters and, therefore, without the need for a licence.
Recent otter surveys undertaken by ourselves revealed that otters traverse a section of river within 0.5km of the centre of a Lancashire town.
Our experienced otter surveyors have found signs of otters on several rivers in England and Wales including the Lune, Wenning, Keer, Gilpin, Severn, Ithon, Mule, Marteg and Ceiriog.