Otters are a protected species and their presence can indicate how healthy a river and associated habitats are. Otters are carnivores and their foods of choice include small fish and crabs, although they will eat almost anything they can catch including larger fish and small mammals. However, if the river is not healthy enough to support the species lower down the food chain then it cannot support otters. Alongside habitat loss this lack of food, caused by issues such as pollution, is the otters main threat.
Participants in this training learnt about otters and the law, otter habitats and behaviours, and how to identify their presence. The aim of this training was to equip volunteers with the skills required to safely identify the presence of otters in areas that they may already be carrying out other tasks such as riverfly surveys and barrier surveys.
Over time this monitoring will allow us to observe otter behaviour, their locations and possible fluctuations in populations. It will also allow us to gauge the overall river health.