On a recent trip to France, our lead ecologist was lucky enough to track otters in a nearby lake (alongside one of our seasonal sub-consultants, Kari Mcsherry). Whilst not lucky enough to see an otter (and did not bring along a camera trap!), they did find many tracks and even a potential holt (otter home).
The subsequent photos of otter foot and tail prints had all at Native Ecology reflecting on the marvel that is the comeback of otters in England, and Kent in particular.
As a top predator and indicator species, otters are hugely important to the health and functionality of our river ecosystems. Although most people will never see a wild otter in their lifetime, thanks to books such as Tarka the Otter and Ring of Bright Water, these charismatic animals are amongst our most loved mammals in the UK. However, as played out within both of these books, the history of the otter in England has been a turbulent one. As well as hunting, the introduction of powerful chemical pesticides into our river systems is almost certainly responsible for the widespread decline of otters, and by the 1960’s this species was extinct from much of the UK.
Good news was widely reported in 2011, when a survey recorded the species in every County in England, with Kent being the last place to record their return. Since then, holts have been found within the river Medway and Eden in Kent, however, sightings of these illusive creatures remain rare.
Otters and their habitat are highly protected under European Law, and should, therefore, be a consideration within development proposals. The impacts of a development on this species may not always be obvious (for example if the main development is some distance from a river/lake), however issues such as potential effects of road design, post-development disturbance and pollution need to be taken into account.
The consideration of otters (and other protected species) early within the design stage allows the flexibility to determine the most appropriate and cost effective mitigation measures, both for the species and for the desired development outcome.
If you require advice on protected species or sites, please contact us today. We provide initial advice on the requirements of your specific project and give a competitive quotation for any survey work or reports necessary.