Otters live alongside rivers, lakes and sea coasts feeding mainly on a diet of fish and amphibians. They rest and breed in dens called “holts” which are often in the root systems of trees along river banks. Their webbed feet, thick fur and ability to close their ears and nostrils underwater make them excellent aquatic predators. Whilst they are mainly associated with water, otters (particularly the males) may also travel far from these habitats in search of mates.
Protection and Legislation
Otters are fully protected under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
It is an offence to;
- Deliberately capture, injure or kill
- Deliberately disturb
- Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place
- Obstruct access to a breeding site or resting place
- Possess or advertise/sell/exchange (dead or alive) or any part of
Otters are shy and predominantly nocturnal and therefore survey techniques are mainly based on searching for field signs such as footprints, droppings, holts and worn paths alongside water courses. Otters are active all year round and therefore survey timings are not seasonally constrained, although during the summer months the surveys can be limited by vegetation growth restricting views.
Licensing and mitigation
Works which will impact upon otters may require a derogation licence to be obtained from the appropriate statutory body for nature conservation prior to the start of works. A mitigation licence permits operations which would otherwise constitute an offence and will only be approved if it includes a suitable mitigation plan and is completed by a licensed ecologist.