WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP OTTERS ? Wildlife Conservation of any species requires the following topics to be addressed: legislation, education, habitat improvement and re-introduction. Without attention being paid to all these issues any serious attempt at wildlife conservation will fail. Legislation is required from government bodies to ensure adequate protection for the otter, which has of course now been achieved. Education of the public, landowners and industrial bodies as to the problems and what can be done is essential. The otter has done well in this respect being an attractive animal and this has no doubt helped along with current debates over drinking water quality and hunting of wild animals. Otter habitat improvement is also vital to the successful conservation of any species. So far as otters are concerned organisations such as the Environment Agency, particularly its branch that was previously known as the National Rivers Authority and the Vincent Wildlife Trust Otter Haven Project have made good progress.
As far as re-introduction is concerned, captive breeding projects by the Otter Trust and other Otter Sanctuary and Parks similar to ourselves, along with release site surveys and follow up work by the Nature Conservancy Council and local Wildlife Trusts have no doubt played an important role in the conservation of the otter by giving otter populations up and down the country a helpful kick-start.
It would appear now that otter numbers are on the increase and that the conservation of our otter in this country has been a success. But, sadly, traffic is now the major cause of death and as our roads become more and more congested this problem will not go away. Underpasses are being constructed where busy roads cross known otter territories but of course there are nowhere near enough and often the otters refuse to use them being unhappy to enter a dark hole with no visible exit. This problem has been made worse by the fact that otters do now appear to have become much less nocturnal than in the past, possibly because they are no longer persecuted in the same way. Thus they seem content to search for their food during daylight hours, when it must be easier for them to find their prey, but this is of course when the majority of the traffic is on our roads.
Education is important and it is hoped that a visit to our Otter Sanctuary will have provoided an insight into the life of the otter and make visitors aware of the threats and challenges that they face in the wild.