Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Otters Are Making a Comeback: Furry Water-dwellers Found in Every County in Britain

By Periscope @periscopepost
Otters are making a comeback: Furry water-dwellers found in every county in Britain

Otters return to Kent. Photo Credit: Daves Portfolio

After 30 years, the otter is swimming back from the edge of extinction in Britain: There are now otters living in every county in the country after two otters were sighted building holts, or dens, on the Medway and Eden rivers in Kent. The sighting is a major breakthrough for conservationists after the Environment Agency (EA) carried out a survey of British rivers in 2010 that found Kent to be the only county without otters living there.

Otters were driven to the brink of extinction due to the introduction of pesticides such aldrin and dieldrin, which washed into waterways from the fields, killing the otters and the fish that they feed upon. Their numbers only began to recover in the 1970s when harmful pesticides were banned and hunting the furry critters became illegal.

Since otters are at the top of the food chain, their increase in numbers indicates an improvement in the health of the rivers. Pollution has decreased to the point that otters have reappeared in rivers running through urban areas such as Birmingham and Manchester, and even London. A recent survey on the river Ribble, in Lancashire, showed a 44 percent increase in otter numbers since 2008. Should we be cautiously optimistic about the health of British waterways? Or is there still a lot more that needs to be done?

  • Some are optimistic. “The fact that otters are now returning to Kent is the final piece in the jigsaw for otter recovery in England,” said Alastair Driver, the EA’s national conservation manager in The Independent. He described the discovery as “a symbol of great success” for all involved. The Daily Mail quoted Paul Yoxon of the International Otter Survival Fund who noted, “[T]hey are still declining and endangered in many parts of Europe so it is good news that our efforts to improve water quality have been so successful.”
  • Some remain cautious. Many conservationists urged caution after the good news and warned against resting on laurels. Kent News quoted Driver, who said, “[W]e cannot afford to be complacent.” A spokesperson for The Wildlife Trust warned in The Guardian, “[T]here is still a great deal of work to do before otters are widespread once more.”
  • Some are downright furious. The Guardian noted, “[T]he resurgence of the otter has not delighted everyone, however, and anglers have reported otters decimating stocks in fishing lakes. The angler John Wilson recently called the otter ‘a wanton killer’ and some fishing groups have called for a cull. Many angling clubs have been forced to erect expensive fences around lakes to keep otters out.”

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