More otter strikes up and down the country
There is no question that the threat to UK carp stocks from otter predation is hugely increased in the winter months. This last week has seen a spate of attacks up and down the country, with social media littered with photos of dead carp posted by anglers. One of the more notable casualties was posted on Facebook by Nashbait boss Gary Bayes, who shared his thoughts upon finding one of his target fish dead.
Gary wrote: “Here’s one of the fish I should’ve been fishing for next summer. Aren’t mink furry little mites. They keep rats away and would eat the full carcass. Otters are supposed to be nicer. I don’t think so.”
It was clearly a very large carp that Gary found and he did post a valid point. Mink were released into the UK by accident after several farms lost their livestock. Due to the threat to fish stocks, fisheries were permitted to trap and hunt them. Yet a mink would certainly struggle to take down a fish the size Gary showed, preferring to take younger and smaller fish, pointing the finger of blame firmly at otters.
Another fishery suffering at the hands of otters is Northey Park run by Hall of Fame carper Elliot Symak. Whilst his main carp lake Patstons is already fenced, some of his smaller day ticket waters aren’t, and it was on one of these where he found a double figure mirror displaying classic signs of an otter strike this week. Well-known sponsored angler Marcus Barrowcliffe also posted a picture of a dead carp from his local lake, and there’s even been photos of a dead swan doing the rounds said to have been caused by an otter.
In response to the number of social media images, a petition was started on the government’s website for the introduction of non-lethal means of control of the otter. At the time of going to print, this petition had amassed over 6200 signatures, with the eventual goal being 10,000. Top specimen angler Des Taylor was just one high-profile name urging the support of more anglers and signatures.
Meanwhile, fisheries continue to take action against otters by fencing. Anglers Paradise in Devon has this week announced they were erecting a new fence around their popular complex. However, as we know, such work is costly and can’t be carried out at short notice by smaller fisheries and clubs. In some cases it requires planning permission, plus some venues are owned by organisations that have a different outlook to anglers, leaving age old carp vulnerable to attack.
One such fishery is Shearwater Lake, owned by the Longleat Estate. In response to the sighting and filming of otters on the well-known Wiltshire venue this week, Carp-Talk columnist Mark Simmonds suggested reasons why it may never be fenced. He said: “Everyone forgets that Longleat is a multi-million pound business with an animal safari park at its core. They are not going to alienate the public by excluding otters or encourage anyone to break the law and harm them. The Estate spend a lot of money stocking Shearwater and 100 carp would certainly compensate what the odd otter might take on a large lake like that. I stock other fisheries that are, for various reasons, unable to fence out otters. Yearly stockings work but it is far from ideal. Shearwater has a visiting otter but one of their favourite food is crayfish and so it won’t just eat carp. I am sure Shearwater will continue to produce great action when the weather warms up and the sighting of the odd otter isn’t going to make a difference.”
Further details about the online petition can be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/209735. Any fishery or angler requiring information about otter fencing and funding should contact Embryo Angling Habitats on 01268 285987 or visit the Predation Action Group website at www.thepredationactiongroup.co.uk.