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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 13:23 GMT
Otter spotted in town centre pond
An otter has surprised conservationists in Dorset by making a town centre pond its new home.

The rare animal has been spotted up to 50 times in the past two weeks at Hatch Pond lake, near Canford Heath, Poole.

Dorset Wildlife Trust said the case was unusual because the lake is on an industrial estate, isolated from other water sources and surrounded by roads.

It is thought the otter have come from Poole Harbour, travelled up a culvert and through the built-up area.

Terry Elbourne, open spaces ranger for Poole Borough Council told the BBC that the animal must have crossed several busy roads to get to the lake as there was no "natural access point" for it.

He said about 50 other people have reported seeing the otter, mainly during the first week after it arrived.

Nearly extinct

He said: "Some people have seen the otter active and feeding in daylight which is unusual, as otters are primarily nocturnal in England.

"Others, including myself, have caught a fleeting glimpse as light is fading at dusk.

"It just goes to show slowly the otter is now going back to its usual haunts."

The trust said another otter was spotted in broad daylight crossing a road by shops in nearby Canford Cliffs last Saturday.

Once widespread, Dorset's otter population was brought to the brink of extinction in the 1970, largely due to pollution from pesticides and habitat loss.

But, since otter hunting was banned in 1978 and organochlorine pesticides were phased out of use, otter numbers have increased in the county.

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03 Apr 05 |  England
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18 Nov 02 |  Science/Nature

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