Otters – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Firstly, I would like to point out that I am a great lover of wildlife.  This is one of the reasons I love fishing as much I do.  You can also get to see so much that the rest of the world will never see.

Good –

When it was nearly impossible to see an otter in the wild, it was a treat to see the odd one or two (this small number of otters kept river in balance –  killed diseased fish in the river and stopped a slow death for the local wildlife).  A natural gamekeeper if you would.

Bad –

There are 2 real issues here.

Firstly; The unofficial releasing of otters (which has been done in great numbers), what are the otters supposed to eat when they run out of fish?  The not so public knowledge, is that they eat!  They will eat anything – eggs, chicks, even fully grown birds, they even been known to kill of all the bird’s on a lake that had no fish, because they had eaten them already!  On my friend’s lake, every year they killed the signets and one year even the cob (swan)!  This stopped, once they put an otter fence round the lake.  This however, has pushed the otters into taking fish from local ornimental ponds within people’s gardens.

The Second issue, are the areas of the county the unofficial releases are happening.  Now, we all know that mostly otters live in rivers, not great big deep reservoir and over populated areas.  A dog otter and his family covers an area of some 5 miles.  If you keep introducing otter after otter into the same area, they will just move on and fill up another areas – nobody likes a conflict with their neighbour!  However, the people who are doing the releases think that someone or something has killed them, so they just keep releasing more and more until that area is over populated – again and then they move on again.  And once there is no more fish or any wildlife left. These otters too will move on. If no action is taken soon, it will become the hard truth.Links-


Please stop intrducing more otters, otherwise, there will be no more fish or bird and starving otters



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5 Responses to Otters – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

  1. Adam ripp says:

    What really concerns me is a question I haven’t seen asked before . Do otters transfer deadly virus . In the suffolk area we are now seeing a spread of khv . This process is just like the svc out break that destroyed a lot of waters around 10 years ago. No one including the environment agency could understand how the virus spread so readily. Are otters the perfect host. Research needs to be done in this field. Khv and svc are spread through the excrement of diseased fish. Do otters through spraints and urine replicate this process. It would open up another reason for the lake owner to be very aware of these apex predators.


    • Hi Adam, that’s a very good point. The research would need to show that KHV and SVC has increased since the otter population has increased. This would be the best place to start. However, you are never going to get the otter lovers to test the otters!
      It could also be the mild winter’s, that we have just had. The water temp did not drop for long.
      We have also had a couple of lakes that have had complete loss of all the carp and there has never been any otter trouble in this area of Southampton. The lake is cut off by motorways.



  2. Bill Baker says:

    I’ve lived with Otter predation on my fishing lakes for a number of years.
    I would like to recount a couple of my experiences. We had the local Otter expert a few years ago to give us some advice on keeping them out. After spending several hours with us, walking our grounds and discussing solutions; he was in his car, engine running and about to leave when he opened the drivers door, turned his head towards me and shouted “you’re a fishery owner accept the losses” and sped out of the car-park like an F1 driver. A few blue words were said!
    Second story, following the above incident. I spent some time with the then local EA Director. I said, “if you consider that about 50 pairs of Otters have been released in this part of Wales, which was about right. They eat 2lb of fish per day, so 100 animals eating 100 fish in 1000sq miles would be an acceptable loss. But Otters don’t eat 1 2lb fish they eat the head/shoulders and keep on taking fish until they’ve eaten 2lb of fish flesh – probably 8-10 fish each. To make the maths easy, 100 (otters) x 8 (fish) x 400 (days in a year) = potentially 300,000 lost fish per year.” That’s a huge loss, any wonder then that the fish stocks in West Wales’ rivers are falling? I continued, “The situation gets worse, at this time of the year you’ve got Mum, Dad and the 2 kids and each wants their 2lb of fish! So, not only are they eating you out of house and home they’re population is growing too.” With no natural predators their population can double in a couple of years. Finally I said, “things gets worse, how do they get an easy feed? When the fish are busy on the best spawning gravels playing boys and girls. Easy targets for fish-hungry Otters. They will suddenly wake up to the fact that they’re under attack and in order to survive they will scatter and spawn on the less productive gravels.” So, they are also severely impacting on the River’s ability to recover lost fish stocks naturally. His reply was “Oh, we didn’t work it out like that” a short pause, ” in fact we didn’t work it out at all!” I was stunned, as the first computer program I ever wrote was one about modelling an eco-system like Otters and Fish (qv Rab-Fox simulation via Google)
    What this means is that they are clueless to what they have done and the impact and effect on a river’s eco-systems.
    Absolutely idiotic, and to make matters worse, it wasn’t the indigenous Welsh Otter (a small animal) that they released but the much larger Euro-Asian Otter.
    Environment Agency – more like Disastrous Agency.


    • Would it be OK if I published your experience with the EA on a blog on my website, as this issue really needs to be sorted out.


      • Bill Baker says:

        Hi Richard;
        To answer your question – Yes.

        For people like me – you can’t tell the EA that you have a problem as they would only come and close you down. Get caught doing something about it (I am surrounded by houses) and a big fine follows. What ever we do we’re on a loser. I don’t have any problem with the public at large seeing Otters in the wild, but for us that rely on fishing for our livelihood we MUST either be compensated, re-stocked for free or help provided to permanently keep them out. I know test work has been done using green lasers, but a sting or “tickle” is nothing when you have a determined animal – he’ll just charge at the obstacle until he’s quick enough and stung little enough that it doesn’t matter to him. Food, easy food is what matters.


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