Otters have fought off the threat of extinction and are back in every county in England after returning to the riverbanks of Medway and Eden in Kent. Conservationists had predicted that they would not return to the county for another ten years, but two otters have recently been spotted building their holts on the riverside.
In 1950’s England, otters disappeared due to hunting and pesticides washing into waterways. After otter hunting was banned in 1978, numbers started to increase. The cleansing of rivers has led to more fish in rivers and lakes and according to the Environment Agency the return of the otters is an indication that English rivers are at their healthiest for 20 years.
Otters have reappeared in areas they have not been spotted in since the industrial revolution, including Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and London. The Fifth otter survey of England 2009-2010, surveyed more than 3,300 English sites. The sites showed evidence that the number of otters in England, increased from 5.8% in 1977-79, to 58.8% in 2009-10.
However, Dr. Paul Yoxon, Head of Operations for the International Otter Survival Fund claimed that Otter surveys do not count individual otters but look for secondary signs in the form of droppings. “Selected sites are visited and checked for a distance of up to 600m and if spraint is found then that 10km grid square is marked as positive,” he said. “We should be delighted that otter numbers are beginning to improve but treat this with a great degree of caution and maintain our vigilance for their conservation.” A
ccording to The Wildlife Trusts it will be a while before otters become widespread once again.