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Otter News 2005

Otters make a comeback at Helston (BBC Mon 26th December 2005)
Otters opting for urban lifestyle (BBC Thurs 3rd Nov 2005)
Cleaned-up Clyde attracts otters (BBC Tues 20th Sept 2005)
A bench mark for county's otters (BBC Jun 26, 2005)
Dog ban plan at Dartmoor valley (BBC May 23, 2005)
Mapping out the otters comeback (BBC Apr 21, 2005)
In otter news: Pollution efforts working (Associated Press Apr 20, 2005)
Cleaner waterways attract otters (BBC Mar 19, 2005)

News Index

Otters make a comeback at Helston

(BBC Mon 26th December 2005)

New research for the National Trust at Cornwall's largest freshwater lake suggests that otters are now firmly re-established in the area.

Loe Pool near Helston has suffered from algal blooms in the summer which have made it hard for plant and animal life to survive.

But in 1996 phosphate stripping was introduced at Helston sewage works.

That has reduced the algal blooms says Marlene Brunet, a biological diversity student from Plymouth University.

Her research has been welcomed by the Environment Agency and English Nature.

Original story

Otters opting for urban lifestyle

(BBC Thurs 3rd Nov 2005)

Otters almost disappeared in the middle of the 20th century

Wildlife experts are asking people in Derby to help them spot one of the country's rarest mammals.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is asking people to help them find out exactly how many otters are around the city.

Wildlife officers say evidence of the creatures has been found both north and south of the River Derwent.

Phillip Precey from the trust said otters virtually disappeared in the middle of the last century, because of pesticides and poor water quality.

He added: "As pesticides are no longer used, the water quality's coming up, the rivers are a lot better now and as the fish come back, so the otters will come back."

Otters are mainly nocturnal, but evidence of their presence can be found via their droppings.

"They look a bit like cigar ash and they smell of jasmine tea, and they're made of fish bones and fish scales - so once seen, never forgotten." Mr Precey said.

Anyone who sees either an otter or their droppings should contact Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Original story

Cleaned-up Clyde attracts otters

(BBC Tues 20th Sept 2005)

An abundant food source is attracting otters back to the river

Otters are making a comeback in the River Clyde, which is being cleaned up in the wake of heavy industry such as its world-famous shipyards.

The otters are being encouraged by the increasing numbers of fish in the river, which is now less polluted.

The exact number is unknown, although an otter count is planned for later this year.

But experts have warned that facelift schemes along the Clyde could lead to the animals being driven out again.

Conservationist Dorothy Simpson, from Scottish Natural Heritage in Inverclyde, said: "There's always the risk that if redevelopment is not sensitive enough it will not meet the otters' needs."

But she added: "Because the redevelopment isn't as destructive as the old shipyards were, there's plenty of scope to accommodate both the otters and the redevelopment.

"A lot of these redevelopments include things like houses and open space. People are looking to see that.

"If the developers are developing for that and for people to have a better environment, that will suit the otters too."

A rebuilt section of the A8 will include an underpass for otters.

'Top of pile'

Ms Simpson added: "If the habitat's right for otters, it's right for a lot of different things. They're top of the pile in terms of prey species.

"They'll be hunting for fish and crustaceans. They're indicative of good, rich habitats.

"We're taking better care of our water courses. We're allowing plants to grow along the sides of them, which are really important to enable otters to travel up and down the water courses.

She continued: "Bare rocky edges or bare brick walls along water courses mean otters have nowhere to shelter.

"But now we're inviting them back in by allowing plants and trees to grow along these areas."

Conservationist Petrina Brown stressed that it was also important to keep the burns that fed into the Clyde free of pollution.

"Rivers and streams are very important because they act as wildlife corridors," she explained.

"These are important because animals use them to travel back and forth and this allows migration."

Original story

A bench mark for county's otters

(BBC Jun 26, 2005)

There have been a number of recent sightings of otters in the area

Conservationists in Cornwall hope a new bench being installed at a nature reserve in the county will encourage people to report sightings of otters.

The carved otter bench has been installed at Bude Marshes, where there have been a number of recent sightings.

The otter bench was installed with a grant from the Pennon Community Fund.

Kate Stokes of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust said: "We are keen for people to tell us if they've been lucky enough to see an otter or its signs."

Bude Marshes is an important site for wildlife and boasts a wetland network with a canal, the River Neet, the marshes and a pond.

Ms Stoke said: "It's a great otter habitat and there have been a number of otter sightings locally."

She said that otters also use the coast itself and the Trust is particularly keen to know if anyone sees an otter in the sea or on the beach.

Original story

Dog ban plan at Dartmoor valley

(BBC May 23, 2005)

Otters need protection says the Dartmoor Park Authority

Dartmoor National Park Authority is to make its first permanent ban on dogs in parts of the park.

It is opening up the West Dart Valley between Two Bridges and Hexworthy under new right to roam laws which are to start in August.

But the authority says dogs pose a threat to otters and salmon spawning grounds there.

Geoff Haynes, director of understanding and enjoyment, said the authority had to consider the area's wildlife.

'Great sadness'

He said: "Dogs may not be a danger if they are on a lead and well away from the riverbank, but we have to work out how best to manage access and get the message about the importance of this area of land as a wildlife corridor."

Dartmoor dog walker Harriet Wymark said: "This is a great sadness. Dogs are a good companion and if you are walking alone you feel a bit safer with a dog.

"My dog has never caught an otter or a salmon and wouldn't even know what it looked like."

But another walker, Brian Vessey, said: "I have walked on the moor for years, but I never take my dog because of the wildlife, as well as sheep and lambs.

"It should be kept for the wildlife, especially at this time of year when you have young birds.

"Why let Fido chase them around?"

Original story

Mapping out the otters comeback

(BBC Apr 21, 2005)

Otters have made a comeback since the 1970s

Nature lovers in Wales are being asked to record signs of the otter, as part of its revival in the countryside.

As part of his new BBC Wales series, Iolo Williams wants people to help map out how widespread they are.

Still a rare sight, the most obvious sign of an otter is its droppings. The Welsh Wildlife Trust said the otter is one of conservation's success stories.

Williams is asking viewers to record a variety of species for Iolo's Wild Safari, which starts on 27 April.

He said: "The thing about otters is that you don't see them very often so you have to look out for signs.

"They live in holts and they're often on banks, so you need to look out for tracks, slides but the most obvious sign is their spraints (droppings)..it's about an inch long, little black pellets and full of fish."

Fish stocks

The National Otter Survey for Wales last year showed that 71% of riverbanks and wetland sites in Wales were now home to otters, a huge increase compared to only 20% in the 1970s.

Use of pesticides was blamed for keeping numbers down in the 1950s and 60s.

The Rivers Cleddau and Teifi remained strongholds for otters, even when their numbers were in decline.

The Welsh Wildlife Centre at Cilgerran is currently home to an otter family on the banks of the Teifi.

The most recent survey also showed that otters were starting, slowly, to make a comeback in the old mid Glamorgan county.

Improved water quality, fish stocks and changes in riverbank management are factors.

But conservationists say there is no room for complacency and they want nature lovers to do their bit in ensuring the recovery continues.

Original story

In otter news: Pollution efforts working

(Associated Press Apr 20, 2005)

PHILADELPHIA - Before a wandering whale visited the Delaware River last week, a river otter made a trip up Philadelphia's other major river - a sign that efforts to cut pollution in the state's waterways are working, officials said.

The 3-foot otter was spotted last month by a camera monitoring a fish ladder on the Schuylkill River near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Officials couldn't recall any other river otter sighting on the Schuylkill.

"This is the first time we've actually documented an otter coming through on the Schuylkill," said Philadelphia Water Department spokesman Ed Grusheski. "This fellow was really an oddity."

Grusheski said the otter was drawn to the river by a plentiful supply of fish that has been growing - approximately 48 species of fish have returned to the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers since the 1990s. A beluga whale recently spent several days in the Delaware and officials theorized it was finding plenty of fish on which to feed.

The adult otter swam toward the ladder's viewing window and pressed his paws briefly against glass before swimming out of the picture. His visit was recorded by a camera shortly after midnight on March 21.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has a program to capture otters and release them in other parts of the state, but none of the release sites is close to Philadelphia, commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said.

"With them returning naturally, it's a positive sign that our waterways can once again sustain a diversity of wildlife," Feaser said.

Original story

Cleaner waterways attract otters

(BBC Mar 19, 2005)

Otter numbers are rising again in Cambridgeshire

Otters are making a comeback to rivers and waterways in Cambridgeshire after an absence of 60 years and numbers are increasing, wildlife experts claim. Sightings have even been made in such unlikely places as Peterborough.

In the 1980s otters were practically extinct in the county, but recent river clean-ups have attracted them back.

Otters have now been seen at Wicken Fen, Paxton Pits, the River Cam and the River Nene after conservation work increased the number of habitats.

Wildlife trusts and the Environment Agency did their best to highlight the highlight the problem of falling populations in the 1980s, but little was done to address the matter.

In 1992, a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough otter survey discovered that only 1% of sites showed evidence of otters.

But now after work on rivers and habitats there are signs that otters are returning to the area.

The news has been welcomed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Biodiversity Partnership which will carry out a survey in two years to assess how the otters are progressing.

Original story