The European otter (Lutra lutra) is more at home in the water than on land, with webbed feet to help them swim, dense bones to reduce buoyancy, and thick fur to keep them warm. An otter’s den is called a ‘holt’, and these holts are built with the entrance underwater to prevent predation. Under pressure from habitat loss, pesticides in the water system, and hunting, European otter were considered endangered in the UK and in Europe; however in recent years the population decline has reversed and they can now be found throughout England.
Despite this change in fortune, the European otter is protected under both Schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). It is an offence to deliberately capture, injure, or kill otters, or to damage, destroy, or obstruct their breeding/resting places. It is also an offence to disturb otters in their holts.
Given the increase in distribution of the European otter, surveys are recommended anywhere river banks and other riparian habitats are to be affected by a development or other works. An assessment of the general quality of a river is often insufficient to indicate presence/absence of otter, instead out surveyors use a number of robust techniques including:-
Walking river banks/wading along river beds searching for any signs of otter such as spraint, holts, or footprints.
Examining potential/known otter holts for signs of use.
Watching a holt from cover to see if it is occupied.
Our experienced otter surveyors have found signs of otter on rivers throughout England and Wales including the Lune, Wenning, Keer, Gilpin, Severn, Ithon, Mule, Marteg and Ceiriog, and we at Tyrer Ecological Consultants are fully equipped to assess your site and provide you with recommendation on how to mitigate or manage for otter in a way which will positively impact the conservation status of this species whilst ensuring your planning application is successful!
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Tyrer Ecological Consultants
Formby Business Centre
42 Duke Street, Formby
Liverpool, L37 4AT