Otters are fully protected under domestic and European legislation. It is an offence to kill, injure, capture or disturb an otter, or to damage, destroy or obstruct access to an otter holt or couch.
Dramatic population declines occurred in the 20th century, with recent increases in range and numbers seen, probably due to an improvement in freshwater habitat quality.
Otters are secretive animals, active throughout the year along rivers and canals and around lakes, using root systems and thick vegetation for holts and couches.
Where development or fishery management may affect otters or their habitat a survey and impact assessment may be required. An initial assessment to determine the suitability of sites for otters is usually undertaken to search for field signs, and identify the location of holts and resting areas.
Where otters are likely to be impacted by a development or fisheries management a European Protected Species licence may be required.
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