Eeek! – Do anglers really want to kill otters?

This headline in The Times the other day made me sit up:

Angling Trust calls for cull of otters eating too much fish

Apart from the slightly infelicitous use of English (shouldn’t that be too many fish?), I can’t really believe anglers want to dispatch otters wholesale.

My experience of anglers is that they are mostly harmless folk who simply love fish. If there is a point of criticism its that maybe they sometimes love them just a bit too much.

And it’s understandable, I suppose, if you’ve spent a lot of money getting a good lake full of fish ready for people to catch, to be upset when an otter comes along and grabs your prize (and beloeved) specimens.

But I can’t help thinking that the headline probably wasn’t quite what the Angling Trust really meant to say. The Angling Trust is a respectable organisation that campaigns for anglers and does much good helping to protect rivers from pollution.

The article was meant to publicise their lobbying plans for 2010 – a worthy document but, like all such documents (our own at Pond Conservation included), unlikely to be your first choice for a bedtime read, unless you were trying to overcome a really long-term problem with insomnia. Maybe the headline was just a way of getting attention?

I checked the report – it’s online here – and the nearest it gets to the alarmist (and alarming) headline is to say that the Angling Trust will  ‘Lobby the Environment Agency for more funds to…… the cost of fencing and other deterrents at still water fisheries to keep out otters.’

Sounds OK to me, and no mention of a cull – which is good news.


4 Responses to “Eeek! – Do anglers really want to kill otters?”

  1. Joe_55 Says:

    A simple answer to ‘do anglers want to kill otters’ would be yes. With the influx of otters into our countryside, comes many many problems.
    We have no ‘wild’ animals that will hunt otters and keep the population to a natural level. Also on the same note, as otter are now a protected species, hunting them is illegal. whoever has implemented this ban is, in my eyes an idiot. Why are the fish not being protected? A large carp can be worth thousands and thousands of pounds. The otters come along to the lakes and rivers and gradually kill all fish, starting with the biggest.

    People who have put all of their time and money into a lake and its stock have to watch as the otters destroy their livelehood in a matter of weeks or months. There will soon be many people taking matters into their own hands. Hats off to them I say.

    All these animal lovers and the government say they have released otters back into the wild because they are supposed to be here. So are wolves but nobody is pushing to get wolves back into the wild. The only reason the otters are winning the fight is because otters are small and ‘cuddly’.
    [Slightly edited for politeness]

  2. Chris Went Says:

    A bit late i know, but i was doing some research and came upon this. Joe, the simple answer is indeed yes, becasue angling clubs and overstocked lakes want to protect their investments. It is an unfortunate fallacy that predators like otters are controlled largely by other predators. They are not: the main control under natural conditions is food supply. The idea that whoever implemented this ban is an idiot does not seem to recognise the fact that when the ban was enacted otters were a critically endangered species on the verge of extinction in much of the UK. They have made a remarkable recovery in the last few years and this is to be celebrated. There is not a captive breeding programme for otters so I don’t know where you get the idea that “animal lovers” are releasing them [actually otters have been released in the past – Jeremy]. They have recovered entirely by themselves, mainly through improvements in water quality which have increased stocks of wild fish [Interestingly many people have suggested releasing wolves, but that is another story…]

    I think the best analogy to explain exactly why this cull should not go ahead is that of gamekeeping. We rightly condemn gamekeepers who persecute birds of prey on their patch. Since this persecution has become illegal and more tightly policed, raptor numbers have recovered.

    The particularly annoying thing about these sentiments is that many anglers claim they want to enjoy a day in natural surroundings, but want to be able to drop their line into an overstocked pond and be guaranteed of catching a monster fish. This is just about a very big business protecting its assets, and they should not be allowed to push this agenda successfully.

  3. peter Says:

    i hear through the grapevine that the lovely otters are now killing avocets on certain rspb reserves. all i can say is i hope they keep on then til they are nearly extinct, like some of our rivers and fisheries – and perhaps then even a powerful organisation like the rspb will listen to what us anglers have been saying or perhaps the otters will get a disease like myxy in rabbits.

  4. Neil Says:

    Yikes some real ignorance being posted in the comments on here.
    Funny because all the anglers I’ve spoken to rather like otters and view them in the same way as kingfishers.
    I find it amusing that angling clubs over stock their lakes with carp which remove all the natural vegetation cover and then call for a cull of otters when they come across an easy meal!
    They are still well below the population level they once were and the comment about reintroduction is a bit silly being that there were very few and only in the South East.
    Otters are still at levels well below what they once were and a lot of rivers can support and any problems can usually be solved by some good fencing. Personaly I think the EA should be spending the money on fixing things like non native carp and rainbow trout upsetting ecosystems and chasing down the fishing lakes that letting signal crayfish escape into our rivers:

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