Angling and wildlife groups secure first otter removal licence!

The UK Wild Otter Trust has secured the first licence issued in England for the live capture and transport of otters.

The licence was issued following two years of negotiations by the UKWOT, and means that the organisation can now legally remove otters when they become trapped inside a fenced fishery – without a licence it is illegal to do so even if they are eating your fish stocks!

Embryo Angling, which was set up to help protect fisheries from predation, has welcomed the issuing of this licence, to the extent that it is going to be providing financial backing for the initiative, for fisheries and clubs that either don’t have access to the funds required, or can’t access the funds as quickly as needed.

The licence, which has been issued by Natural England, is also being supported financially by the Angling Trust and Predator Action Group, and the UKWOT will be advising fisheries on the best type of fencing to use to prevent otters getting onto their waters in the first place.

It will enable the UKWOT to humanely trap any otters that are trapped within a fenced fishing complex and remove them outside of the fenced area, giving a legal and humane way of dealing with the problem.

This news has been welcomed by both conservation groups and anglers alike, with UKWOT media and policy advisor, Dr Daniel Allen, commenting: “Conservation doesn’t work without conversation. A pragmatic approach, diplomacy, co-operation and collaboration are vital and this licence is representative of this.”

Embryo’s James Turner enthused: “This is a positive development for fenced fisheries and as always, Embryo wants to help the fishing clubs that are unable to help themselves – those who simply can’t afford it. We will be offering UKWOT funding for this on a case by case basis.”

The Angling Trust played a major role in this joint initiative, and CEO Mark Lloyd explained: “This is a welcome response to the representations we have been making to Natural England to deal with the potential problem of otters occasionally getting trapped inside fences that have been installed on fisheries throughout the country, with support from the Angling Improvement Fund.

“Our expert fishery management advisors will now be able to help fishery owners and angling clubs by legally trapping the animal and placing it outside the fence,” he added.

Mark Walsingham is a fishery owner and keen angler, but is also a nature conservationist by profession and has been working alongside UKWOT on this initiative. He commented: “I have always believed that the interests of angling and nature conservation are entwined inextricably, like strands of ivy growing on the same bough, but in recent years the damage that otters have caused to many fisheries has threatened to pull those strands apart.

“I’ve been working with the Angling Trust and Natural England, as a member of the board of the Predator Action Group, to develop a means of protecting fisheries from otter predation, without compromising conservation.

“The PAG has been campaigning for many years to get the problems predation poses to fisheries and other wildlife recognised, and Dave Webb, from UKWOT, had been working independently on the same approach to licences control of otters, where a fishery has taken all reasonable means to protect its stock.”