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24 September 2014

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You are in: Cambridgeshire > Features > Your County > Otters' Home Sweet Home

Alert otter on river bank

Otter on river bank by Keith Burtonwood

Otters' Home Sweet Home

Numbers are up but not enough of these shy and beautiful creatures are settling down in the mid-Fens. So over the next three years 33 holts will be built across the area to help them start families.

It's all thanks to the Middle Level Commissioners which has just launched a three year Otter Recovery Project. It will build 33 otter holts and 15 other habitat areas throughout the 120 miles of waterways it manages.  The Commissioners' patch stretches from Sawtry up to St Germans in Norfolk, which gives the otters plenty of space to colonise.

Man standing beside half-built otter holt

Trial otter holt by Cliff Carson

Otters were hunted in England for centuries and until the 1950s they were common in Fenland waterways. Changes in farming practices after the Second World War saw their numbers plummet.  In the late 1970s they became a protected species and, according to the Wildlife Trust, just 15 years ago they were practically extinct in Cambridgeshire.

But things are looking up for this graceful and shy animal.  While numbers are on the increase across the county, the 2007 Cambridgeshire Otter Survey revealed they are largely absent from the middle of the fens.  The 33 holts should provide them with just the "des res" they need to boost their population.

"The chances of a lucky person catching a glimpse of this exciting animal are increased"

Cliff Carson

And if you're a bit confused about why the Middle Level Commissioners is involved, it's one of the organisations which helps to keep the Fens above water.  The Middle Level is the largest section of the Great Level of the Fens and it goes back to the mid-17th Century when drainage began in Cambridgeshire.

With funding from the SITA Trust and wildlife organisations, the Commissioners will work with the Environment Agency to prevent the use of illegal nets and traps which can drown otters.  Bridge owners will be encouraged to improve access for otters, providing ledges for them to use.

Over the next three years, the north Fens should provide the perfect home for these largely nocturnal animals.  As Cliff Carson, Environmental Officer at the Middle Level Commissioners, says: "The chances of a lucky person catching a glimpse of this exciting animal are increased."

last updated: 05/12/07

Have Your Say

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millie mc
otters are very georges creature so if you would love to see it close up just go to chester zoo

Snippy
Having lived on the edge of the fens for 35 years and been actively involved in fishing, shooting and conservation and recently observed what I believe to be an otter, I can't wait for this scheme to be completed. It would be a true joy to take my children to see such a unique animal in what was once it's stronghold. Well done and best wishes to all concerned I wish you every success.

Smudger
This is all well and fine I just hope the commissioners has thought and realised that if successful the otters will spread and there is untold fisheries in the fens that would not benefit a large comeback of this fine mammal.

skye
I think that is lovely that the middle leval commissioners are getting involved and helping to build the homes for the otters i think it would be great to bring my 2 year old brother to come and see them.lets hope that the people who read this will stop littering and pulloting the rivers.I also think that if people do start to understand that they could nearly have been extinct then they will treat the envionment with respect. from skye age:13

You are in: Cambridgeshire > Features > Your County > Otters' Home Sweet Home



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