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Otters return to Cheshire River Gowy

Otters return to Cheshire rivers

After decades of being driven away by pollution and the loss of habitat, otters are making a return to Cheshire's rivers.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust has recorded the presence of otters on the River Gowy and Weaver.

Motion sensitive cameras have captured otters inside artificially constructed holts, or nests on the River Gowy.

The holts were built to encourage the return of otters along many of Cheshire's waterways.

"We've increasingly seen over the last 30 years signs of otters along our rivers," Cheshire Wildlife Trust's Richard Gardener told BBC North West Tonight.

building a holt
Volunteers building a holt for otters close to a Cheshire river

"It's because the rivers are getting cleaner, the Environment Agency are controlling the discharges much more, there's more fish in the river, more food for the otters.

"We've seen things like the spraint, which is on the rock by the river here, and we've seen foot prints as well."

Since 1994 the trust has been working hard to encourage otters back to the region's rivers and volunteers have constructed artificial holts for the otters.

Otter activity is monitored by remote controlled infra-red cameras which have been placed in sites around Cheshire's rivers.

The River Gowy is a tributary of the Mersey and has its source close to Peckforton Castle, flowing north to the east of Chester.

The river had suffered from pollution for many years, partly due to it running through industrial areas close to the Mersey, recently there have been schemes to clean the river and restock the river's wildlife population.

Otters were once common in the UK's rivers but declined rapidly from the 1950s onwards, mainly due to pollution from pesticides and the loss of much of their natural habitat.

By the late 1970s the species was almost extinct in most of England, and parts of Wales.

Gradually otter's have begun to return to rivers across the country, although spotting them in the wild is still rare, which is why Cheshire Wildlife Trust monitor there progress with cameras.

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