Many people ask us where they can see otters. It’s important to watch them responsibly, so we’ve produced a simple advice guide to help you to understand the dangers that otters face — and to help you enjoy them as much as we do.
One of the golden rules is to please take your litter home with you, because this can seriously injure all wildlife. Ring pulls and empty cans, for instance, can be a hazard to otters in or near water, not to mention the risk of cutting humans or other wildlife. Plastic can holders (the type that hold your larger cans together) are a particular hazard to otters as they are inquisitive animals, and often get their head stuck in these, while empty plastic carrier bags pose a potential threat to many species.
If you suspect pollution of watercourses, please call the Environment Agency as a matter of urgency to report this ASAP.
1: Do your research. It’s important to know your target species’ habitat, behaviour and feeding patterns before setting out. Do your homework to ensure that you’re fully educated before venturing out to otter spot.
2: Prioritise species safety. Never put a photograph, film clip, or personal experience before the welfare of the otter.
3: Know your companions. If you’re going out with another photographer, ensure that you know them and their behaviour, and that you’re both on the same page.
4: Wear waterproof, but silent, clothing. Otters have acute hearing and will hear you from a long way off.
5: Always stay downwind. Otters also have an acute sense of smell!
6: NEVER BAIT AREAS OR OTTERS. Doing so may change otter behaviour patterns and will be VERY detrimental to the species.
7: Never remove spraints (dung). These are very important, as they are used to communicate with other otters.
8: Stay aware. Please remain aware of how the otter is behaving. If it changes its behaviour, then there’s a good chance you have disturbed it and should leave quietly.
9: Never disclose exact locations on public or social media sites. This information may get into the wrong hands.
10: Always keep dogs on leads – no matter how well behaved they may be –and under control near watercourses and rivers, especially if you know that otters may be nearby.
11: Seek advice. If you’re unsure about anything at all, there are many good otter conservation and education groups that are willing to help you and answer any questions. Please feel free to contact us directly if we can help!
12: Keep track. Once you locate otters, take note of behaviour, weather and river conditions, numbers, and other general details of what you saw, along with times and dates. Please pass this on to an otter group in that area, so they can add the information to their database for monitoring and survey purposes. You can also report otter spots to us by clicking here.
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you the basic rules of professional otter watching.
Below are some illustrations of fencing that has been successfully installed to prevent otter predation. Also shown is a guide of the actual costs (it should be noted that the members of this small non-profit received the materials from the fishery manager). Fencing can be a contentious subject for some due to cost, but it needn’t be. With a good membership behind you, the protection can be installed for very little – in almost 100% of cases, for much less than just one prize fish. We are very happy to advise on any aspect of fishery protection – simply get in touch for more information.
(Copyright on fence and costings image remains the sole property of Joss Faulkner, and should not be reproduced without express permission.)
Predation by otters can have a serious impact on both private and commercial fisheries. We all know that we’re unable to fence every mile of water, and also that otters are here to stay as a (rightfully) protected species. However, we can help those affected. We do not want to see otters persecuted because people feel they have no other avenue, and we do not want to see beautiful fishing waters closed down when there is help available. We are unable to confirm exact number of otters, but we can give simple advice to enable both species to co-exist.
Therefore, we are happy to offer the following to affected fisheries (free of charge to successful applicants):
1. We will advise on suitable fencing and how it should be erected;
2. We will help erect fencing if it is possible and feasible for us to do so;
3. We are happy to visit fisheries to advise on the best preventative measure(s).
We also hope to work with organisations such as the Angling Trust and Environment Agency (both of whom will also advise on otter predation prevention) to strengthen our position and benefit both angling and otter conservation. The Environment Agency can be contacted on 03708 5060506 (ask for the local Biodiversity & Fisheries Officer).