Otter at rest

Otter Surveys & Mitigation

The Ecology Consultancy advises on, and conducts, all aspects of otter conservation - from licensed field surveys to habitat protection

Otters  can  live on a variety of water courses  including rivers,  canals,  lakes  and  reservoirs,  estuaries,  coasts, streams,  ponds,  bogs, and marshes,  and  occur in  both  rural  and  urban  areas,  including  major  cities.  They may use a variety of places to breed and shelter, for instance under tree roots or boulders, or in old rabbit burrows. Otter cubs can be born in any month of the year.

Otters have long slender bodies with short legs and a thick tapered tail. The body is about one metre long and their paws are webbed. They have dark brown fur on the back with a pale underside and their head is flattened with a broad muzzle, small eyes and ears. They may be confused with the non-native American mink (which is not protected in the UK), a considerably smaller and darker animal.

The Law

Otters are fully protected against killing, capture, injury and disturbance, and any places they use for shelter or protection (their holts or dens) are protected against damage, destruction or obstruction, under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). If an otter or its place of shelter is found on site after works have started, works in the area must stop immediately to avoid the law being broken.

Breaking the law can lead to fines of up to £5,000 per offence and potential prison sentences of up to six months. Vehicles and plant implicated in an offence may be impounded and both the company and/or the individual(s) concerned can be held liable.

Expert Otter Consultants

Our licensed ecologists can advise on and carry out all aspects of otter conservation and protection, from thorough field surveys to habitat enhancement. Our ecologists work on a range of rural and urban development projects.

Otter Surveys

Otters can be difficult to survey because they are not readily seen during daylight. Our expert ecologists look for their droppings, which are deposited on rocks, logs and structures along watercourses, which comprise a mass of fish bones, shell, and small bones, and their resting places and footprints.

Otter surveys can take place at any time of the year, but preferably when rainfall is low, and when the vegetation has died back, allowing for better visual identification of survey features.

Our expert ecologists undertake habitat suitability assessments that help to determine the likely presence of otters and target further surveys.

We can also carry out all aspects of habitat management and creation including:

  • management of river corridor habitat to optimise it for otters
  • creation of artificial holts

From  specific  projects,  over  a  small  area,  to  more comprehensive  surveys  for  scientific  studies  in  extensive habitats,  The  Ecology  Consultancy  has  the  experience  and expertise to ensure your otter surveys are completed quickly and efficiently.

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