UK Wild Otter Trust secures England’s first initiative class licence from Natural England for the live capture and transport of the European Otter (Lutra lutra)
UK Wild Otter Trust secure first ever initiative class licence to remove otters
trapped in fenced fisheries in England
After two years of planning and negotiations, the UK Wild Otter Trust (UKWOT, charity number 1167746) is pleased to have secured the first class licence to humanely trap the European Otter in England under very specific circumstances.
The licence allows UKWOT to humanely trap any otters inadvertently trapped within a fenced fishing complex and remove them to the outside of the fence. This gives fisheries a legal, humane way of dealing with problems of predation caused by otters which are trapped inside fisheries.
The licence issued by Natural England is a collaborative initiative supported financially by Embryo Angling, Angling Trust and Predation Action Group (PAG). It allows UKWOT to work anywhere in England – the licence does not cover Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Natural England will be fully informed at all times of the progress, with full debriefs and reports supplied before, during and after otter relocations.
The partnership has financial backing from Embryo Angling Habitats and Embryo’s funding helped to secure the license in place.
“This is a positive development for fenced fisheries. As always Embryo wants to help the fishing clubs that are unable to help themselves – those who quite simply cannot afford it. We will be offering UKWOT funding for this on a case by case basis. We will also consider providing funding to some clubs who can’t release money quickly without going through committees/trustees. As time is of the essence with this trapping service, we would provide funding on the understanding they will refund the money (or a portion) once it has been released.”
Dave Webb, Founder and Chair of the UK Wild Otter Trust (charity number 1167746), explains:
“I am very excited about this breakthrough for the UK Wild Otter Trust. It is an important step forward in otter conservation and it demonstrates what can be achieved by working alongside the angling fraternity. Otter predation can be an issue for fenced fisheries. This ‘class licence’ will give these fisheries and anglers an avenue to remove the trapped otter legally and humanely.”
“Achieving this has given fisheries and anglers alike the confidence that there is a legal, humane and sensible option to help reduce otter predation. This project is still in the very early stages of development and use but has been long overdue. Fisheries look to otter groups and other organisations for help and we are all very aware of the financial pressures that otter predation can cause. We hope, that this will go some way in boosting morale and of course offer that all important support and help.”
Dr Daniel Allen, Media and Policy Advisor for UK Wild Otter Trust, adds:
“This is an outstanding achievement by the UK Wild Otter Trust – a registered charity since June 2016. As the first ever initiative class licence to remove otters trapped in fenced fisheries, it is also a ground-breaking step forward for otter conservation in England.
“The UK Wild Otter Trust has taken a pragmatic approach to otter predation in fenced fisheries, and now offers a practical, non-lethal, legal solution to owners of fenced fisheries. This class licence also shows that protected species can be humanely managed in a non-lethal way at a local scale in England.”
The initiative has already attracted wider support. BBC wildlife filmmaker, Richard Taylor-Jones, works closely with conservation organisations, farmers and private land owners. For Taylor-Jones, engagement with stakeholders is essential:
“Over the last 20 years I have witnessed a resurgence of otters on English rivers. A fantastic conservation success story – a story that needs continued work to strengthen and make permanent. Part of this ongoing work must include continued engagement with the fresh water angling fraternity – some of whom are now very concerned about otter numbers and the effect they are having on privately owned fish stocks.”
“This humane initiative is a sensible solution for fenced fisheries. Dave Webb and his team deserve full support in taking this pioneering concept forward to help protect a species that is still recovering from a dark recent past.”
BBC Wildlife Presenter and UK Wild Otter Trust Patron, Lindsey Chapman, echoes this statement:
“The humane otter trapping initiative by the UK Wild Otter Trust is a major, ground-breaking step forward for otter conservation in the UK. It gives fenced fisheries a legal, humane option for removing otters and will help build important working relationships with those affected by otter predation, whilst at the same time raising the all-important species awareness.”