THE first ever licence to trap protected otters has been issued – raising hopes the species might lose some of its ‘untouchable’ status.
The UK Wild Otter Trust have been issued with the first and only Natural England licence to humanely trap otters that are caught within a fenced fishery.
The Otter Trust has been working on a joint initiative for two years with the Angling Trust, the Predator Action Group, Natural England and fishery owners to find a solution that will help fisheries affected by otter predation.
Mark Walsingham, working group member and owner of Ashmead Fishery in Somerset, explained: “This type of licence has never been granted before and is a major step forward in that it gives fisheries a legal and humane option to remove a problematic otter from a fenced water, rather than take the risk of removing it illegally and being caught.
“It is a major step forward for otter conservation in that it helps alleviate some of the conflict between otter conservation interests and fisheries and means that otters caught behind fishery fences can now be humanely removed.
“Major backing has come from EMBRYO that will help fund this for the fisheries that we go to. Equally as important, this is building important bridges between the two sides of fisheries and conservation which is a massive step forward in its own right.”
A spokesman for UKWOT said: “The licence is a ‘class licence’ and will allow UKWOT personnel that have been trained in the methods of live trapping to remove problematic otters that are inadvertently fenced into a fishery during any fencing works being carried out and/or to remove otters that have breached any existing fence lines.
Barbel Society chairman Steve Pope said: “This is an important step forward in protecting fisheries and in official recognition and public awareness that otters can cause problems for angling.
“It only applies to waters that are already fenced and doesn’t apply to open waters and rivers, but maybe one day we might see it extended to other places where otters can be proven to have caused major difficulties.”
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