Otters don't just eat Fish

squimp

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This is from Bruno Broughton, it dismisses a lot of the myths spread by 'interested' parties, often with more than a hint of bias.


John.
Good balanced stuff as always from Bruno.

The only current legal deterrent is a proper fence (the right spec is detailed on the Angling Trust website). Obviously you cannot fence a river as Simon R has pointed out.

The latest legal development that I’m aware of is a concession from Natural England that they will consent the live trapping of otters that get INSIDE purpose built otter fences. NE will not accept basic stock fences or chicken wire constructions.
 

Geoff P

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They usually take carrion, but are opportunistic and take live prey, as do other raptors
They are not very manoeuvrable but on rare occasions can take small birds and small rodents but they are lazy and prefer carrion. Spent many hours at Gigrin Farm near Rhayader watching the feeding of Red Kites. The white ones are rare but stunning.
 

NoCarpPlease

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I
They are not very manoeuvrable but on rare occasions can take small birds and small rodents but they are lazy and prefer carrion. Spent many hours at Gigrin Farm near Rhayader watching the feeding of Red Kites. The white ones are rare but stunning.
they're basically pretty crows ...
I remember going on an ornithology "holiday" to mid wales in the mid 1970s when there were only 25 or so breeding pairs left in the UK. We were lucky enough to spot 3 birds.
this from RSPB website
"The small remnant population survived the persecution in the old oakwoods in the undisturbed upland valleys of mid-Wales, but despite extensive efforts, the numbers remained extremely low. The tightest genetic bottle-neck came in the 1930s. Even though several pairs survived, DNA analysis has since discovered that the entire Welsh population was derived from a single female bird. The population did not exceed 20 pairs until the 1960’s, when it started slowly to increase. "

I wasn't aware of the re-introduction in England so was really shocked when one nearly flew in to my windscreen on the M40 at Stokenchurch in the mid 1990s!
 

NoCarpPlease

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On the otter question - three really important points
1. this is not like Wolves or Beavers - the Otter population crash was only 65 - 45 years ago
2. re-introductions played a tiny part in the re-establishment (see Broughton's note)
3. they are now the Apex predator in the ecosystem and compete with us for resources (ie. fish) - but all predator populations are self-regulating over time (except humans that is).

so - it's really not a good look to be calling for culls of a native species success story, much as I regret any loss of fish stocks.

personally - I'm much more worried about the impact of increased population and climate change on fish stocks than I am about otters or cormorants.
 

trotter2

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Hopefully it may balance it self out ,anglers can only live in hope. A national culling would never get passed you can bet your life on it. Should never have been reintroduce imo.
 

NoCarpPlease

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Hopefully it may balance it self out ,anglers can only live in hope. A national culling would never get passed you can bet your life on it. Should never have been reintroduce imo.
read Broughton's note - the re-introductions have only slightly sped up the repopulation after we stopped using such poisonous chemicals.

It will balance out - in the sense that ecosystems are dynamic and constantly in flux - even without Human interference.
 

JayD

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Not often ducks though - and people do seem more attached to ducks than many other birds - probably because even wild birds can become tame enough to take bread or seed straight from the hand.


I remember one of the Yorkshire releases - although it must have been due to some rehabilitated otters 'cos it was certainly post 2000 - three otters were released on Carlton Moor up on the top of the North York Moors and they were supposed to head south and recolonise Bilsdale - River Seph/ River Rye. Unfortunately otters can't read maps and two headed north and followed Scugdale into Swainby Beck, then Potto Beck and ultimately the River Leven (via a short detour through Hutton Rudby Ponds) decimating the wild brown trout population of the various watercourses.
Nobody was too sure where they ended up but once in the Leven they could head downstream to the fish rich waters of the Tees or a short overland journey would see them enter the River Wiske, a major tributary of the Swale. A few years later a pair of otters were killed on the A19 whilst presumably attempting to make just that journey between river catchments.

The River Rye has been decimated to such an extent that a couple of years ago the EA were forced to restock the river with grayling to prevent the species disappearing completely from the catchment. Years ago my club rented a stretch of the Rye just above Rievaulx Abbey and catching in excess of a dozen grayling in a session was not unusual - for them to be on the verge of extinction is staggering.

Simon

People do seem to have a sentimental attachment to ducks and swans. It's pretty ironic that their affection leads them to throw tons of 'food' at them that contains little, if any nutritional value.

You've mentioned a lot of my old hunting grounds in your post. A lot of time spent fishing for grayling, as well as the resident roach chub dace etc, on the Rye, Costa, and Seven, and we used to have free access to a length of the Whiske, that was eventually lost through the actions of a few idiot 'anglers'.

I was never convinced that the demise of the grayling was purely down to the actions of the otters. I remember reading reports suggesting that, pollution, siltation, and of course the actions of the "trout good, grayling bad" brigade, may have also play a significant part.

John.
 

Deejay8

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There was actually some active culling of otters before the population crash in the 1950s, and that was through hunting, so hunters and their dogs took the role of apex predator. Now that hunting them is not allowed, there is nothing to hold back their population numbers. I think that we have to learn to live with them. Otter fencing helps to protect the fish stocks in commercial fisheries and should deprive otters of their easy pickings, so hopefully the population will achieve some kind of balance. On rivers we have to hope that the numbers naturally balance out over time. What shouldn't be allowed is a knee jerk reaction from the conservationists to a decline in the otter population, and then misguided efforts made to bolster the current population. Only if habitat loss or pollution causes the otters to decline, should any action be considered. If otters find themselves starving to death and declining, because their access to easy fish meals is cut off, then that will just be the population returning to a sustainable level.
 

NoCarpPlease

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I agree with that - the RSPB stance on so many things seems to be "we have to conserve at the current level or more birds" ... which is just plain daft!
 

Robwooly

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There was actually some active culling of otters before the population crash in the 1950s, and that was through hunting, so hunters and their dogs took the role of apex predator. Now that hunting them is not allowed, there is nothing to hold back their population numbers. I think that we have to learn to live with them. Otter fencing helps to protect the fish stocks in commercial fisheries and should deprive otters of their easy pickings, so hopefully the population will achieve some kind of balance. On rivers we have to hope that the numbers naturally balance out over time. What shouldn't be allowed is a knee jerk reaction from the conservationists to a decline in the otter population, and then misguided efforts made to bolster the current population. Only if habitat loss or pollution causes the otters to decline, should any action be considered. If otters find themselves starving to death and declining, because their access to easy fish meals is cut off, then that will just be the population returning to a sustainable level.
Trouble is if they decline some doogooder WILL reintroduce them in those areas, which is downright stupid not to mention cruel. Some of the Otter release areas I have heard about border on the cruelty issue with regards their long term supply of prey.

With Otters now in every county the introductions need to be stopped to find natural levels, that wont sit well with people who are obsessed with releasing animals
 

smiffy

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There hasn’t been any introductions for twenty odd years apart from rehabilitated animals that were either orphaned or injured. If we are to make a case for control then we must make ourselves aware of the facts. Nearly all Otters are natural repopulations from areas where they were never wiped out. As for apex predators? We now have cars which can do a reasonable job of being an apex predator. It’s life or death for a young Otter trying to establish its own territory. An adult Otter can also kill a youngster if it strays into its territory. It’s rare but a Fox will take young otters.
 

JayD

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I find it strange that so many want to kill otters, a native species that are making a come back, after a decline in numbers caused by mans actions. I then see and hear many of them saying that we should not kill other non indigenous species, that have spread across the countries waterways, due to the actions of man.

I'll start the list off with Catfish and Zander.
Any more?

John.
 

Lee Richards

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Are you aware that Otters can destroy complete eco systems with their catholic tastes and when they go hungry they will eat anything that takes their fancy.
Are you also aware that parent otters will deliberately take large breeding sized fish such as Barbel and will wound the fish for no other purpose than to teach their young how to hunt,
Otters are also selective what they eat and will target the soft spots of fish such as the underbelly and only eat a small percentage of that fish.
This means that they will take more than one breeding sized fish every day and discard most of the bodies.
It doesn't take them long to decimate the waterway of the breeding stock population as we have seen on the River Teme where otters are now numerous but the Barbel stocks have crashed.
Yes there are other contributing factors but the coincidence and the evidence has been there to see for anglers such as myself who have spent most of their angling lives seeing the damage that has been caused.

If you wish to romantacise about something that has probably not touched your fishing life then great that is your want but I suggest you spend some time reading the BFW forum and read the posts from guys who have seen the rapid decline in Barbel stocks on numerous waters across the country which are all aligned with otter population growth and expansion.
 

grey

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The problem with otters as a species is, many individuals differ vastly in temperament: some will be ultra territorial, aggressive killing machines; others will be shy, placid creatures that live in harmony with the surrounding nature.

Therefore, any management of the species needs to be individually selective - taking out only the problem otters to benefit local wildlife (including other otters too).

Otters are portrayed as cuddly, adorable creatures. Convincing 'Joe-public' otters need controlling at all, will be difficult enough, but to try and convince them select individuals need targeting and they'll probably insist on trial before execution!

If culling is unsuitable, then any attempt at individually targeted management raises the question: whose responsibility will it be to select which otters are causing problems? The EA? I doubt they'll be willing to admit there's any problem with any otter.
 

JayD

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Regardless of any argument, Furry and Feathery, will always win against Scaly and Slimy with the general public. I think it's in our psyche, with a little help from Disney of course.

John.
 

tipitinmick

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I can’t get the video link to load.

I assume it shows an otter eating a bird ?

If so, it fits with the fact that the RSPB are currently spending serious amounts of money fencing their bird reserves. Simply to reduce otter predation.
You don’t want to see it pal. It’s not nice. ?
 

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