Monday, November 01, 2010

Road death threat to increasing otter population

Picture by Darin Smith, Wiltshire Wildlife
The return of the otter to waterways in Wiltshire has been one of the conservation success stories of recent years, and the result of many years of effort by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to improve their habitat.

By Susan Litherland, Wiltshire Wildlife

Between the 1950s and 1980s the otter population plummeted and there were serious concerns for their future survival. Polluted waterways, mink and human activity all took their toll on these handsome creatures.

Numbers are on the rise again, but this means otters must spread out looking for new territories and unfortunately have to take on new threats like roads.

“Obviously the more otters there are around, the more likely people will come across them by the roadside. The less there are, the fewer will die on the roads,” says Vicki Brown of the Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre, based at the Trust in Devizes.

Vicki stresses how important it is to report seeing any dead otters, and of course any live ones you may be lucky enough to spot.

“By contacting us with any reports you are helping us to build up a picture of otter numbers in the county and what’s happening to their populations. Despite our existing records, we still have gaps in our knowledge, and the more we know about these wonderful animals, the more we can use our otter-friendly projects to protect them,” she says.

“All we need to know is what you saw, where you saw it, preferably with a grid reference, and when you saw it. Simple really! In fact, at the risk of sounding gruesome, we need records of any wildlife killed on the roads,” says Vicki.

If you are worried you won’t be able to identify a species, make an accurate a description of it and the W&SBRC will help you work it out.

 Have a look at the website - you will see there is an ‘on-line’ recording form for entering your sightings. Or contact Vicki on (01380) 725670. Email:

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