Dead or Alive: Reporting wild otter sightings in the UK

For wildlife conservation actions to be effective, they must be well informed.  Cardiff University Otter Project runs a long term environmental surveillance scheme, using otters found dead to investigate contaminants, disease, and population biology across the UK (http://www.otterproject.cf.ac.uk/).  In this way, the unfortunate event of an otter death can result in information which can further conservation of otters, and of the environment.

Otters found dead in England, Wales and Scotland may be transported to the Otter Project at Cardiff University for post mortem, by the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and International Otter Survival Fund respectively.  These agencies should be contacted immediately, if a wild otter casualty is found, to enable speedy arrangement of transport for post mortem.

Post mortems are not currently carried out on otters found dead in Northern Ireland on a routine basis, but all mammal sightings dead or alive may be logged in the NI National Biological Recording Centre known as CEDaR – http://www2.habitas.org.uk/records/

All wildlife casualties of road traffic accidents, across the UK, may also be reported to Project Splatter http://projectsplatter.co.uk/

Live sightings of otters (or their slides, tracks or spraints) can also be extremely useful.  Records of these sightings can provide a picture of otter distribution, showing where they are thriving, and where interventions to protect these beautiful creatures may be required.

If you are already reporting live otter sightings to a local otter group, then please continue to do so.  These groups generally share their information with Local Environmental Records Centres (see http://www.alerc.org.uk/),

If you sight a live otter or signs in an area where you are not aware of a local otter group, you can report the sighting to the UK Wild Otter Trust at ukwildottertrust@hotmail.co.uk.  The trust will then either direct the report to the relevant local otter group, or directly to a Local Environmental Records Centre.

If you would like to find an otter group near you, check with the Wildlife Trust (http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/node/74432) or Mammal Society (http://www.mammal.org.uk/local_mammal_groups). Some Mammal Groups have specific otter sections.

Ultimately, the aim is for all records to be directed to the relevant Local Environmental Records Centres on an ongoing basis.  The UK Wild Otter Trust is also compiling a national database of otter sightings, aiming to work in collaboration with local otter groups to make the database as complete as possible.

Advertisements