Otter news.

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JohnLucas1316
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:52 pm

Otter news.

Post by JohnLucas1316 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:44 pm

The latest State of Nature report has just been made public. The BBC reported the good news that otter numbers are increasing, but the bad news that water vole numbers are very low. Surely there is a coincidence here. For years mink have been blamed for killing large numbers of water voles. Now in many areas otters have driven out mink, often killing them in fights. But surely an otter will kill a water vole just as readily as a mink will? The main killer of water voles has just changed from nasty American mink to cuddly native otters.
In order to survive, otters are having to eat birds and small mammals because of the lack of freshwater fish.
I have had a quick look through the State of Nature report, and I can't find anything about freshwater fish numbers. The report is compiled with data from 70 different organisations, and yet it seems that none of them have looked at the plight of freshwater fish!
When angling groups ask the Environment Agency or conservation groups for greater protection for freshwater fish from predators, they are always told to provide proof that fish numbers are down, and yet, 70 different organisations reporting on the state of nature can't provide numbers for freshwater fish, even though the abundance of fish is vital for so much UK wildlife.

In Springwatch earlier this year there was a piece about the electronic tagging of salmon smolt in Scottish rivers to try to find out why so many of them fail to make the journey out to sea. Chris Packham promised to report on the results of the experiment in Autumnwatch. If it is found that those salmon smolt have been eaten by otters, or cormorants or goosanders, do you think Chris will tell everyone? I doubt it. Can't wait to see. What do you think?

davelumb
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: Otter news.

Post by davelumb » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:15 am

I noticed (in what I read of the report) that it mentions some species have suffered sharp declines in recent years yet others have increased suddenly in the same period. Lots of mentions of the declining species but other than our furry friend I couldn't see any other species detailed which had increased in numbers. And I also struggled to see any mention of fish.

Michael Hastings
Posts: 93
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:53 pm

Re: Otter news.

Post by Michael Hastings » Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:56 pm

In the interests of balance...

Personally I've had fewer otter sightings in Norfolk over the last couple of seasons. I'm hoping some kind of balance has been found but...

On the other hand I'm seeing more than ever in Suffolk.

I don't like them.

Eric Edwards
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:43 pm

Re: Otter news.

Post by Eric Edwards » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:36 pm

I doubt that there's a direct correlation between an increase in otter numbers and a decrease in water voles. As both have been here since the ice age they have found a balance in the past and will do so again.
As for info on fish, there's a lot of data here.

https://data.gov.uk/dataset/f49b8e4b-86 ... -all-years

JohnLucas1316
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:52 pm

Re: Otter news.

Post by JohnLucas1316 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:28 am

My point is that otter feeding behaviour may have changed in many areas, because cormorants (and other predators and factors) have left them few fish to eat. In the past when fish were plentiful, otter and water vole got along together just fine. In times of depleted fish stocks, otters are going to be surviving on birds and small mammals (such as water voles) rather than fish. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was Hugh Miles who wisely stated that "If you want otters you can't have cormorants."
I used to bailiff a short length of the Nene in Northamptonshire, and every couple of years Anglian Water would electronet a stretch of it to monitor fish stocks. They have not done this now for about the last 10 years.
I will look with interest at Erics link, but wonder why the information was not included in the State of Nature Report. In the last report, fish stock numbers were left out because the information was not collected scientifically enough....

P.S. I tried to look at the link but could not get in. I will have to ask a 3 year old to help me later!

Jason Skilton
Posts: 196
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:00 am
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Re: Otter news.

Post by Jason Skilton » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:58 am

Environment Agency (EA) monitor stocks on river on a programme.

If you look at the Angling Trust East of England Forum you will find the last survey was conducted in 2018.

If you do a FoI to EA, you can ask say for a 5 or 10 years work of survey reports.

Otters and cormorants whilst they hunt some of the same prey, otters have a wider range of prey items and will there go for the easiest prey.

On the upper reaches of the Suffolk Stour for instance that is Signal Cray Fish.

JohnLucas1316
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:52 pm

Re: Otter news.

Post by JohnLucas1316 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:37 pm

Thanks Jason. That is useful.

JohnLucas1316
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:52 pm

Re: Otter news.

Post by JohnLucas1316 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:12 am

I still do not understand why freshwater fish stock numbers are not included in the State of Nature report.

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