River conservation schemes helps renaissance of otters

CONSERVATION work on the River Ouse in Yorkshire has been heralded a major success after a series of sightings of otters.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has overseen a programme of work which has cost £107,000 throughout the last three years along the Ouse, and similar amounts of funding have been spent on the restoration of the rivers Hull, Aire, Went and Don.

Conservationists have confirmed to the Yorkshire Post that there have been at least three sightings of otters in the last month in York alone. Other reported sightings in the region include in the Aire at Skipton, the Whiske in North Allerton and the Wharfe at Grassington.

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While the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s project on the River Ouse has just come to an end, officials are seeking new funding to continue work along the waterway, including restoring vegetation.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Vale of York wetlands officer, Claire Burton, said: “It is always a real thrill to see an otter. They are such beautiful animals and it is great that they have made a comeback in our rivers, giving everybody a chance of an encounter.”

There had been a dramatic slump in populations of the otter throughout the British Isles over a period of more than 20 years up until the late 1970s after pesticides entered the food chain and ravaged the predator’s numbers. But the species has returned to every county in England, and the Yorkshire Post revealed in August last year that otters have been enjoying a renaissance in the Yorkshire Dales due to wide-ranging ecology work which has improved water quality and supported its main diet of fish and crayfish blossom.