THE Barbel Society’s parliamentary petition calling for the non-lethal control of otters has received short shrift from the Government.

The rejection is despite the otters motion – for non lethal control – quickly gaining 11,650 signatures.

In a detailed response DEFRA have stated categorically that otters are protected and will only be limited by natural means in the amount of food available.

The DEFRA response was: “The Government understands that there are concerns that otters may have adverse impacts on fish populations but we do not accept that the otter ‘has become a detriment to the river environment’.

“Otters are a protected species and it is an offence to harm, capture, kill, disturb or injure any animal and/or damage, destroy or obstruct their resting or sheltering places.

“Therefore any methods of control, including non-lethal methods, would constitute an offence.”

Steve Pope

But Barbel Society chairman Steve Pope is not giving up the fight over otters just yet.

Steve told Angler’s Mail: “We never really expected a positive response, but the one they have given is totally unyielding and demonstrates how they are determined to ensure otters survive and prosper at the expense of fish and other wildlife.

“Frankly they are holding anglers in contempt. Our sport is under attack from all areas and they are doing nothing to help our rivers.

“It is all very well fencing big stillwaters but then where are the otters to go?

“They will clear out our rivers, decimate other forms of wildlife and even go to garden ponds and take domestic cats.

“This really is only the first battle in a fight that we must win.

“The petition still has a long time to run and if it reaches 100,000 signatures will be debated in Parliament.

“We hope that when anglers see what the government have said they will be even more willing to sign and join what is a fight to save our sport.

Angling Trust chairman Mark Lloyd said: “The Government’s rejection of this petition was entirely predictable and it, along with many of the comments about it on social media, will have damaged the reputation of angling in the eyes of the public and politicians.

“We were consequently unable to support the petition. Even the most pro-angling MP in parliament told us that the petition would achieve nothing,” he added.

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