In England otters have been making something of a comeback, which is good for them, but not so good for a local commercial fishery because the otters like to eat the fish. At the Whitbourne Angling Club in Worcestershire, a non-violent approach to otter deterrence has been used with success so far. Lion dung from the London Zoo has been mixed into a spray and then squirted around the ponds where the otters are stealing fish. The lion poo spray has caused the otters to strenuously avoid the small ponds that are regularly restocked with various fish for anglers to catch, and put back. Some of the fish are roach, rudd, bream, crucian carp, tench, common and mirror carp, pike and perch.
While using lion dung might not seem that noteworthy, it should be said violent methods of otter management such as trapping, cause injury and death. It is a remarkable show of empathy for the otters to use a deterrent that is non-violent and effective in protecting the fish anglers enjoy catching. Even more remarkable, the hunting and fishing mentality is not often known for empathizing, or even caring at all, about a species that is preying on their game animals. Historically an animal like an otter that is reducing the number of game animals would be seen as a pest, and simply killed.
There are only four small pools at the fishery, and it is connected by a small stream to the River Teme. It extends seventy-five miles from the hills of Mid Wales, and has been a fairly unpolluted natural area for years. Because many otters died in other areas due to pesticide poisoning in the 1960s and 1970s, it seems reasonable they would be experiencing a resurgence there. The whole area has been designated a site of special scientific interest by the British government. They are places of great biodiversity or unique wildlife or geology.
Otters are still considered near threatened in terms of their conservation status, so protecting them is very important. In the UK they are legally protected by Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). By the 1970s they had been nearly driven into extinction. The Forestry Commission of Great Britain says the number of wild otters there is not known. Another agency said they expect a full otter recovery in twenty years.
Otter Image Credit: Factumquintus
River Teme Image Credit: Newton2