Otter-proof fence

A carp fishery has spent a six-figure sum putting up two miles of 6ft high fencing to protect its fish from otters, reports The Freshwater Informer.

Otter-proof fence
Otter-proof fence

Wingham Fisheries in Canterbury, which has huge carp, including what is thought to be the country’s biggest, weighing 80lb, has spent the money after losing several prized fish to otters. Big carp can be worth up to £30,000 each. They attract keen anglers – but they also attract otters, following the resurgence of the wild population in Britain.

Otter damage to a carp
Otter damage to a carp

The move comes after the UK Wild Otter Trust admitted mistakes were made when hundreds of protected otters were released into the countryside in the 1980s and 90s to boost their dwindling numbers. David Webb, chairman of the trust, said more research should have been carried out into the effects they had on rivers and fisheries.

The otter is the UK’s largest predator. This video from 2017 shows what it is like to be chased by an otter. Passer-by Rory MacPherson from Lockerbie stopped to take a photo – but the otter was not pleased about having its picture taken, and saw the person off back to their car.

Otterhunting is one of the most ancient sports in the UK. In the 14th century, King Edward II became the first Master of Otterhounds in England and, 200 years later, Queen Elizabeth I was the first Lady Master of Otterhounds. The Association of Masters of Otterhounds was formed in 1910. However, agricultural practice in the 1950s, including the widespread use of the pesticide DDT, all but wiped out the otter and, the Masters of Otterhounds voluntarily decided to cease hunting at the end of the 1977 season. Otterhunting was later banned in England and, two years later, in Scotland.

The Kendal & District Otterhounds in 1972 – photo by Jim Meads

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