Update: Otter found dead in illegal animal trap at Grantham park
Police are appealing for witnesses after an otter was found dead in an illegal trap in the River Witham in Grantham.
The otter was discovered at Queen Elizabeth Park last Thursday in an illegal crayfish trap.
The Environment Agency have joined up with Lincolnshire Police to appeal for information after their officers found the trap while carrying out routine inspections on the River Witham in Grantham.
It was found in Queen Elizabeth Park, where the Environment Agency and partners have carried out extensive works to improve the health and habitat of the river.
The sad discovery comes just weeks after local volunteers reported seeing a pair of otters swimming in the same stretch of river. Their return signals just how much the river has improved in recent years.
The trap discovered at the park was illegal as it was the wrong type and had not been permitted by the Environment Agency.
Crayfish trapping is banned on this stretch of the Witham as only the native, endangered and protected white-clawed crayfish are present there.
The trap also risked introducing crayfish plague to the area, which has potential to wipe out this protected species.
Trapping, injuring or killing an otter – whether deliberately or through carelessness – is a serious offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Offenders face an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison.
Darren Randall, fisheries officer with the Environment Agency, said: “We all want to protect our precious and threatened wildlife, like otters, water voles and native crayfish, which is why it’s so important that activities like fishing and crayfish-trapping are carried out responsibly.
“This case is especially worrying because it threatens native, endangered species of crayfish, which are afforded the same protections under the law.
“If you see suspicious fishing or trapping activity, please report it to us on 0800 80 70 60 and help us prevent tragedies like this in the future.”
DC Flint, Lincolnshire Police wildlife officer for Grantham, added:
“We were notified about this incident at 3pm Thursday and were informed that an otter was found deceased in an illegal trap.
“We will be investigating this and will take appropriate action."
Otter populations have begun to recover across the country following a drop in numbers between the 1950s and the 1980s. Their return reflects the hard work done over decades to improve habitats and water quality in our rivers, which are the healthiest they’ve been since the industrial revolution. Otters remain legally protected as their numbers are still recovering.
Otters are a European Protected Species and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
If anyone has any information, please call Lincolnshire Police on 101 quoting incident 219 of 7 February or email me direct on Aaron.Flint@lincs.pnn.police.uk.”