What is the legal protection of otters?
Otters are a Biodiversity Action plan species (BAP). Otters are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and under the European Habitat Directive.
It is illegal to kill, keep, disturb or sell otters except under licence.
What do otters look like and where do they live?
Otters grow to a length of between 100cm and 165cm including the tail. They have long slender bodies, webbed feet, small ears and a long thick tail. Their fur is brown in colour but is often paler on the underside.
Their main source of food is fish, particularly eels, but they will also eat frogs and crayfish.
Otters are now present on virtually every river catchment in Dorset, and the DWT staff work very closely with the Dorset Otter Group in order to tackle the largest cause of otter mortality today - road deaths.
By surveying road bridges otter death 'hot spots' can be identified, and we work with a range of relevant organisations to implement solutions at these bridges so that otters can pass safely under them.
More information about otters in Dorset, including a distribution map and videoclips, can be found at the Dorset Mammal Group website
For details of the Fifth Otter Survey of England 2009-2010 see http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/wildlife/110740.aspx
I've found an injured otter, what should I do?
Call RSPCA National Emergency Number 0300 1234 999.
I've found a dead otter, what should I do?
You will need to make a note of the grid reference of the place where you have seen the dead otter and then ring Sandie Moors at the Environment Agency on 01258 483486 or, outside of office hours, ring 0800 807060, or alternatively call DWT reception on 01305 264620.
What can I do to encourage otters to live in a river near me?
The river and the surrounding habitat has to be managed to provide food, shelter, corridors of suitable habitat to enable otters to move around, and also resting places.
The Dorset Otter Group has produced four factsheets on habitat management for otters, including the building of artificial holts. These factsheets are available on the Dorset Otter Group website or from the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
How can I become involved in helping otters?
You can become a member of the Dorset Otter Group and become involved in surveying for signs of otters, plus practical habitat management. Dorset otters are monitored by over 100 'otter spotters' who have charted the remarkable recovery of otters in Dorset since their catastrophic decline in the 1950's due to poisoning by organochlorines.
Otter pair by Stephen Mallison
RJ - 120811