Otters

Jenny Chambers
👍 1

Tue 2 Apr, 12:50

I've received this today from BBOWT.

Morning Jenny

As water voles have recently been recorded nearby, we do co-ordinate a mink raft on the Mill Stream as part of our water vole conservation work. The raft is on private land and is monitored by the homeowner. Great news that you’ve had otter sightings, with otters doing well in Oxfordshire we are always aware of the potential for them to visit the mink rafts. They do fairly frequently visit the rafts and like to leave their spraint on top, less commonly they will enter the tunnel on the raft and leave their footprints in the clay tracking pad. I have attached our guidance on using mink rafts, which we provide to anybody we work with to monitor and trap mink and which explains how the rafts work. The rafts are usually in monitoring mode with no trap in place but when signs of mink are detected and the clay tracking pad comes out we have a ‘belt and braces’ approach to ensure that otters do not get trapped. These are the mink rafts we use, as you can see they have upright dowels at the tunnel entrance to restrict the size so that otters cannot enter. We also provide traps such as these that have inbuilt otters guards (i.e. added rows of mesh at the trap entrance which restricts the size and makes it too small for otters to enter). Due to their smaller size, there is always the possibility that an otter cub could enter a trap although to my knowledge, in the 11 years that I have been managing the water vole project, this has never happened. For this reason through, and also to protect other species such as water voles and polecats, we always use live-capture traps rather than lethal traps so that an animal can be positively identified as a mink rather than an otter or other species, before it is dispatched. We make all our mink trappers aware of the differences between the species and of the legal protection afforded to otters.

We log all our traps with the Environment Agency and regularly liaise with their technical specialist, Graham Scholey, who is also chair of the UK Otter BAP steering group. Graham is certainly not complacent about risks to otters and has approved our use of these rafts and traps.

I hope that has gone some way to re-assuring you but do let me know if you have any further queries. It’s good to know that local people are looking out for the otters and I hope you all enjoy your otter spotting- having yet to see an otter in Oxfordshire despite regularly recording their signs, I am rather jealous!

Best wishes

Julia

Julia Lofthouse

Mammal Project Manager

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust

Jenny Chambers
👍

Mon 25 Mar, 13:12

This is the relevant bit of an email received this morning from Stuart Manwaring, local Environment Agency Fisheries Officer.

BBOWT have a mink raft (not trap) somewhere on the upper channel, perhaps not far from the canoe club. Otter guards are used to ensure only mink are able to access the raft. If there are any concerns then do get in touch with BBOWT.

To be 100% sure, I will contact BBOWT (Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust) but it seems the otters are not in danger of becoming trapped.

Hannen Beith
👍 1

Wed 20 Mar, 10:06

Might be a red herring.

Jenny Chambers
👍

Tue 19 Mar, 18:06

I've had this response from Pete Walker  (Cotswold Rivers Trust). I'll follow up with Stuart Manwaring (Environment Agency) and post here.

Hi Jenny,

That's fantastic news about the otters. The Cotswold Rivers Trust don't have any mink traps out so I'm not sure where that information has come from sorry. I've copied in Stuart Manwaring, an EA fisheries officer for that area, to see if he can shed any light.

Stuart - any thoughts / insight?

Thanks

Pete

Rosemary Bennett
👍

Tue 19 Mar, 15:20

Somewhat reassuring Alan, thanks for that. Fingers crossed that a safe solution can be found.

Alan Cobb
👍 1

Tue 19 Mar, 12:32

Any trap they may have has to be a live trap and has to be inspected at least once a day (preferably twice).  They would get into serious trouble if they drowned a Water Vole.

Rosemary Bennett
👍

Tue 19 Mar, 09:22

Thank you so much Jenny for your concern for these rare and wonderful creatures. I hope that you will get a speedy response from the Cotswold River Trust folk. I've never seen otters yet, but  hope to soon, and to imagine that they could be trapped and presumably drowned is awful.

Jenny Chambers
👍 2

Tue 19 Mar, 08:05

I've found a contact for the Cotswolds River Trust. This is the text of my email to a Dr Pete Walker:

We have been seeing a family (one adult and two youngsters) of otters on the Evenlode in the Charlbury area. We believe that there is a mink trap somewhere on the millstream and local people are worried that the otters are at risk of becoming trapped.

We understand from a local Environment Agency rep that the Cotswolds River Trust monitor the trap. Can you confirm if that is so? If so, can you say how frequently it is checked?

I will post again here any response I get.

Rosemary Bennett
👍

Mon 18 Mar, 09:57

How lovely to hear about the otters..... but worried about the mink trap catching them..... what would we do if in the worst case we saw a trapped otter? 

Rod Evans
👍

Wed 13 Mar, 14:06

I was wondering about whose responsibility the traps might be and whether they're still needed. Could Stephen or Russell say exactly where they are so people can keep an eye on them? 

Russell Robson
👍

Wed 13 Mar, 13:55

I believe the traps are monitored by the Cotswold River Trust as part of a joint project of habitat recreation with the Environment Agency

Stephen Andrews
👍

Tue 12 Mar, 09:58

Given that they are clearly active, I trust someone is regularly checking the (live) floating mink trap on the Mill stream, as Otters need to be released if they trigger the trap and get caught.

Rod Evans
👍

Mon 11 Mar, 09:08

Lovely talk by Tony on Friday, thanks - and otter sighting confirmed yesterday evening, probably the same 3 bowling downstream past Mill Lane!  Hope they get going on the Signal crayfish which I suspect are doing a lot of damage....

Jenny Chambers
👍

Mon 11 Mar, 07:54

Thanks Simon, that's wonderful news! I haven't seen otters in the Evenlode, or any since childhood in North Devon. I'll keep my eyes peeled for the family you saw.

Tony H Merry
👍

Sun 10 Mar, 21:24 (last edited on Sun 10 Mar, 21:26)

This is indeed really great news.  As I said in my talk on Friday the Evenlode has many challenges to water quality but its good to know that has not deterred these determined otters.  We must do all we can to make them welcome!

Claire Wilding
👍

Sun 10 Mar, 15:36

That's fantastic.  Otters have been recorded there before - it's in the biodiversity report produced for the neighbourhood plan if of interest - but those sitings date back to 2008.  Great to know they are still about.

Simon Walker
👍 6

Sun 10 Mar, 11:30

On Friday morning I saw three otters in the river, just by the Cornbury bridge.  One adult and two smaller ones.  I for one have never seen any in the river here before, so it's great to know that conditions in the Evenlode are good enough for them.

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