Otter spotted catching fish in Wolverhampton canal

image copyrightSarinder Joshua Duroch
image captionThe Canal & River Trust is researching whether or not the otter was "just passing through"

An otter - one of the UK's most elusive mammals - has been spotted catching a fish in a Wolverhampton canal.

It was seen swimming near a pub in the Wyrley and Essington Canal by walker Sarinder Joshua Duroch, who was quick enough to take a picture.

Paul Wilkinson, of the Canal & River Trust, said the "wonderful" find was "a real testament to all the hard work" improving the region's water quality.

The canal has been a local nature reserve (LNR) since 2008.

Its inhabitants now include swans, Canada geese and kingfishers.

Mr Wilkinson, a senior ecologist, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "The fact that we're even talking about otters on formerly industrial canals is incredible and a real testament to all the hard work that so many people have put into improving the water quality in the region.

"We know we have about 10 otters with territories along our canals, and it's amazing that they're now being seen in areas where they have been absent for over 60 years."

  • Otters were once hunted to the brink of extinction
  • Since the 1950s their numbers on Britain's rivers have declined due to habitat loss, persecution and the use of pesticides
  • Over recent years they have been making a comeback due to better water quality and efforts to improve habitats
  • Otters have large territories and signs of them include droppings, known as spraints

Source: Canal & River Trust

The trust should be able to tell from its recent otter survey whether there is an established otter territory there or whether the one seen near the Nickelodeon pub, in Wednesfield, was "just passing through".

Labour city councillor Phil Bateman, who campaigned for the canal to be made an LNR, said the sighting was "stunning news".

"It's truly amazing to think of an otter being seen in the middle of a city that has more than 250,000 people living in it," he said.

"I'm over the moon."

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