Please help us ensure the survival of Otters living in the River Severn. We want to raise awareness, provide volunteering opportunities and undertake important habitat management.
The European Otter (Lutra lutra) is a secretive native mammal with a long slender body, thick tail and brown fur. They inhabit both freshwater (rivers) and saltwater (seas) and breed quite slowly.
The late 1950s to early 60s saw a catastrophic decline in otter populations due to water pollution, habitat loss and persecution for their fur. Thanks to conservation efforts, reduction in hunting and cleaning of rivers and water bodies populations are now steadily increasing.
Otter populations are fragmented throughout England but there have been many sightings in the River Severn, Shropshire. Our project aims to help secure their presence and improve their chance of survival.
The otter project began in May 2017.
What we do:
- Train volunteers in surveying for otter signs, e.g. footprint and droppings recognition.
- Maintain the otter distribution map, collect data on feeding patterns and look at the relationship between water condition and otter success.
- Provide a dedicated webpage and visual display at Shropshire Wildlife Trust's Shrewsbury headquarters.
- Capture people’s attention and ensure they understand the importance of clean water for wildlife and encourage them to submit otter sightings.
- Help guide the public on how they should interact with otters to ensure minimum disturbance without reducing public enjoyment.
- Carry out demonstrations on habitat and management works. (This is to provide knowledge of good practice to landowners as otters require clean rivers with an abundant, varied supply of food and plenty of bank-side vegetation offering seclusion. Riversides often lack the appropriate cover for otters to lie upon during the day.)
The project received £5000 through the Tesco Bags of Help scheme: thank you to everyone who voted in store!
For information on what to do if you find a dead otter, please please visit the University of Cardiff Otter Project webpage here
All records collected will be forwarded to Shropshire Mammal Group and will be logged in the county records database.