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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 07:58 GMT
Conservationists urge action over otter deaths
An otter
About 51 otters were killed on the region's roads in 2002
A record number of otters are being killed on the South West's roads.

A meeting is being held on Wednesday night to discuss ways to reduce the figure.

Last year, 51 otters were reported killed on Devon and Cornwall's roads, which is double the previous record.

Conservationists have said they expect this year's total to be even higher as the region's otter population is growing.

Building ledges

Most casualties happen close to bridges and tend to happen at this time of year because rivers are swollen and running too fast for otters to swim up.

There are usually no banks under bridges, so otters are forced to cross roads as they roam for food.

The meeting, which will be attended by wildlife groups and officials from both counties, is being held in Launceston in Cornwall to discuss ways to alleviate the problem.

One solution is building ledges under bridges for otters to walk along.

One of the ramps is in the River Harbourne on a section which runs under the main A38 at Buckfastleigh in Devon.

Devon County Council said: "Devon has an internationally important otter population, and one of the strongest in the lowlands of the UK.

"As such, we in the county have a great obligation to ensure the conservation of this species."

Homes built to tempt back otters
17 Feb 03 |  England
Otters return to the rivers
21 Jan 03 |  England

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