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24 September 2014

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You are in: Southern Counties > Nature and wildlife > Sussex Nature > Return of the otter

An otter in close up

Picture by Stephen Bray

Return of the otter

The otter is back in Sussex rivers - thirty years after it was last sighted in the county.

In fact just one otter has moved into Sussex - to a secret location that wildlife experts are keeping to themselves.

But one is a great deal better than none, because otters need to be resident in the county if they are to breed there.

An otter standing

Picture by Stephen Bray

“The return of the otter in Sussex is good news but not yet a happy ending. We still have a great deal of work to do before they are able to return in numbers to all our rivers.” said Fran Southgate, who works for the Sussex Otters and Rivers Project.

Up until recently otters are known to have moved through the county but not to have settled. Otters top the food chain in wetland areas, so their presence means that the wetland itself is in good condition.

 “That’s not only good news for other wetland wildlife such as kingfishers and dragonflies, but it indicates fisheries are recovering and that drinking water from our rivers is improving too.” said Dr Tony Whitbread, Chief Executive of SWT.

The numbers of otters in Britain declined after the Second World War because of water pollution, destruction of wetlands, hunting and road kill.  By the 1970s the otter was considered extinct in Sussex.

Please note that the photographs in this feature do not show the Sussex otter.

last updated: 16/06/2008 at 16:29
created: 16/06/2008

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