Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Appeal to Shetland drivers over otter deaths

Otter
Dark winter nights combined with fast movement is being blamed for the deaths

Motorists in Shetland are being urged to take extra care after a rise in the number of otters being killed.

Scottish Natural Heritage said about 13 deaths were expected annually, but the Shetland office had reported 21 otter corpses so far this year.

The rising death toll could account for as much as 10% of the total population.

SNH area officer Glen Tyler said: "Most otter road deaths happen from October to December and usually coincide with darkness around rush-hour."

These energetic mammals often dart across roads near water and sadly many are killed as motorists are taken by surprise by their sudden appearance
Glen Tyler
SNH area officer

He said: "Given the increase in deaths this year we're asking drivers to be aware of the locations where otters may be encountered such as coastal roads and places where roads cross water courses.

"The true number killed is most certainly even higher since not all casualties are reported to us and collected for autopsy.

"Young otters seek new territories, these energetic mammals often dart across roads near water and sadly many are killed as motorists are taken by surprise by their sudden appearance."

Otter specialist Jim Conroy said: "Despite the fall in otter numbers, Shetland still has a high density of otters, and the chances for people to view them are as good in Shetland as anywhere."

SNH appealed for anyone who sees a dead otter in Shetland to contact the local area office on 01595 693345, or by e-mail at Northern_Isles@snh.gov.uk



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