Otter havoc hits Suffolk ponds

POND owners otter be careful because there is a new visitor in the area!For five nights in a row, an uninvited visitor - believed to be an otter - turned up at Paul Day's pond in Martlesham and gobbled up a majority of his fishes.

POND owners otter be careful because there is a new visitor in the area!

For five nights in a row, an uninvited visitor - believed to be an otter - turned up at Paul Day's pond in Martlesham and gobbled up a majority of his fishes.

Realising that he would lose his entire stock of Koi Carp if he didn't take action, he covered the pond with a net. But the crafty creature wasn't about to give up a meal and that night helped himself to several goldfish in another garden pond nearby.

Mr Day, 46, of Viking Heights, said: “It is a big loss to me. It is like losing pets. I've netted my pond completely now because otherwise it would have kept coming back. I have just heard that a woman who has a pond in her garden about 100 yards from mine had lots of her goldfish taken.

“I feel guilty because obviously it found it couldn't get into mine so went to find some food somewhere else.

“I'm honoured that we have got an otter that feels my pond is clean enough to visit but it is a bittersweet taste.”

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Mr Day, who has had the pond for three years, lost about eight Koi Carp and two Golden Orfe. He claims it could have come from the River Deben and there is also a long stream along the back of his house.

Though such behaviour could also be attributed to minks, Penny Hemphill, Suffolk Wildlife Trust's water for wildlife officer, who visited the scene, believes it is an otter due to the way the fish have been eaten and the fact that the chickens in the garden were not touched.

Unlike mink, which are seen as pests and must be killed humanly if caught, otters are protected and form part of a conservation project.

As reported in The Evening Star earlier this month, the Atkins family, of Philip Road, off Belstead Road, captured a mink which had been terrorising guinea pigs and frogs in their back garden.

Julian Roughton, director at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “It sounds as though it could be an otter as they would take Koi Carp. “They do not tend to go that far from rivers and would not travel too far in an urban environment. Otters have undergone an extraordinary recovery. They were nearly extinct in Suffolk but there has been a complete transformation in terms of the conservation of otters.

“We would advise people to put a fence up around their ponds to stop the otters getting in.”

Have you spotted any otters near where you live? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Otters can swim at speeds of 12 kilometres an hour underwater and can travel for up to 400 metres before surfacing for air.

The European otter has an acute sense of sight, smell and hearing. The eyes are placed high on the head so that it can see when the rest of the body is below water.

Otters are very territorial. They tend to live alone, except during mating, and for a period after the cubs are born.

Their home range depends on food supply but can be from 1km along a rich coast to 40km along some rivers.

Their diet consists mainly of fish, but also birds and small mammals.

Source: Environment Agency

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