Illegal traps kill protected species

ILLEGAL traps are killing some of Huntingdonshire s protected wildlife. According to the Environment Agency, illegal crayfish traps on the River Great Ouse and other waterways have lead to the deaths of three otters in the past few months. The latest deat

ILLEGAL traps are killing some of Huntingdonshire's protected wildlife.

According to the Environment Agency, illegal crayfish traps on the River Great Ouse and other waterways have lead to the deaths of three otters in the past few months.

The latest death was discovered in Hen Brook at a St Neots park where the otter had been tempted into the trap to eat the crayfish or the bait. The animal then drowned.

Matt Johnson of Huntingdonshire District Council countryside services, who manages Pocket Park in Barford Road, St Neots, said: "Knowing the wildlife value of the area we do not allow traps to be set on the brook, especially as we have been working hard to increase otter numbers there.


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"We were extremely sad to find the dead otter in our park, particularly as we don't think there are any crayfish in this part of the river."

Otters are a protected species and anyone found guilty of killing them can face a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.

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Andy Sandler, from the Environment Agency's fisheries and biodiversity team, said: "A lot of work has been carried out to encourage otters in the county and numbers are now recovering.

"To find them needlessly killed is very disappointing, especially when people trapping crayfish can take simple measures to stop it happening."

People setting a crayfish trap must have consent from the Environment Agency and the owner of the riverbank where they want to set the trap.

If the trap is allowed, it must conform to strict size dimensions and some designs need to be fitted with an otter guard.

INFORMATION: Anyone who suspects a trap has been set illegally or who finds a dead otter should contact the Environment Agency's free incident hotline on 0800 807060.

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