Otter droppings were recently found in the Thames lock island in Surrey, proving that this rare animal has found its way back to the Lower Thames after many decades of absence. Being a top predator, the presence of otters is proof of a healthy river environment, in terms of good water quality, availability of fish to eat and sustainable habitats.

The return of the native comes just four months after Environment Agency staff spent a day constructing two otter holts as part of their Environment Leave. To help find a suitable location for the otter holts, a detailed search was carried out by Debbie Cousins, the Environment Agency’s Conservation Officer, Chris Matcham, the Surrey Wildlife Trust Otters and Rivers Project Officer, and Julie Cottrell, the Team Leader for Waterways Operations.
 
‘Until 40 years ago wild otters were found throughout Britain. By the early 1970s they had disappeared from the Thames region and could only be found in a handful of English counties and in their strongholds in Scotland and Wales. Nationally, otters are beginning to make a steady recovery, but progress is threatened by road deaths and a loss of wild places where they can live undisturbed.  It is fantastic to find that otters have found refuge on one of our lock islands; it’s a clear indication that the population is spreading’. Debbie Cousins commented.

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