Friday, 16 November 2012

Why did the otter cross the road?

The otter population is growing in the UK and has been welcomed back as they look lovely and mean that the environment is cleaner. They have been welcomed back so much that they are protected. Well they haven't been welcomed back by everyone. Did you know that otters kill for fun? If an otter family moves in then they can do a lot of damage.  They eat duck eggs and the ducks if they can catch them. Fish farms are vulnerable too.

Regardless of whether you like or loath otters there is no doubting that the otter population has increased dramatically and otter families are now seen in most rivers. In part this has been due to a decline in their natural predators, in part it is due to a much cleaner environment, and in part it is due to the release of otters bred in captivity.  In recent years the otter has received significant support and European law protects them from injury and from moving them from their holt. Even if you took the otter from its home, another otter would fill the void as they are territorial animals.

If you wanted to build a mooring and your land happened to coincide with a holt then all is not lost. Help is available from Natural England. Otters are adaptable and with that advice they will live nearby. I have walked across Morecambe Bay and seen a great deal of wildlife. It so happens that wildlife was most abundant near humans and there isn't much to see in the middle of the Bay.

They have found a family of otters near the prospective link road from Morecambe to the M6. This means that Natural England are advising the council as to what they have to do to continue building. This isn't the emphasis in recent reports. Those who oppose the link road see the otters as their saviour. At the very least they believe that the cost of delay should preclude the continued development. However, even if building stops then the County Council money will go towards a link road elsewhere. Ironically the protestors have cost the council much more money in delays than any otter.

Change the world

P.S. Today's news (20th November) is that protestors still feel that the otters are the excuse they have been looking for. It is a non-story. Steve McCreesh, director of the project for the council, said the otters are not living near the area of woodland which will be built on. "They are not actually living close to the construction site, there is no holt near the site," he said. Still, it didn't stop the headlines.

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