New homes for otters in Cheshire

Conservationists in Cheshire have been working with a local landowner to build a new home for endangered otters alongside the River Weaver.

The otter holt, which is used for resting and breeding, was constructed as part of ongoing work through the Cheshire region Otter Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). It was built on land belonging to a member of BASC’s Green Shoots project near Hankelow in the south of the county.

In recent years many old riverbank trees have been cleared and natural holt sites have become rare. Artificial holts provide resting places while otter habitats recover in the long term.

The new holt is a ‘living holt’ constructed using a fallen willow tree and willow branches. The holt has been sited at a location away from human disturbance and will be monitored on a regular basis.

BASC’s Green Shoots officer for Cheshire, Ben Gregory, said: “This is yet another great example of BASC members getting stuck in with practical conservation tasks that will almost certainly benefit the local otter population.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

• BASC’s Green Shoots programme is a unique collaboration between people who manage land for shooting and other conservation groups. It allows access to land used for shooting for survey and management work designed to meet Cheshire’s biodiversity targets to improve the range and diversity of plants, animals, birds and insects.

• Road casualties and pesticides are amongst a long list of factors, which have contributed to the otters’ demise over the years, and although Cheshire has a wealth of waterways, the otter population is still lower than would be expected. The species is currently listed in the International Union for the Conservation of Natures’ (IUCN) Red Book as ‘vulnerable to extinction’.

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