Canal and River Trust to help otters in West Midlands

Otter (generic)
Image caption In the late 1970s, according to the Environment Agency, the otter population was in "severe decline" in the UK

A project to increase the numbers of otters living in canals has been launched by the Canal and River Trust.

The charity said it aimed to boost the number of a species "which was once hunted to near extinction".

Otter homes, known as holts, and ramps will be installed on the canals in Birmingham and on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal.

The Angling Trust has called the project "well-intentioned" but said it cannot support it.

The chief executive of the representative body for game, coarse and sea anglers in England, Mark Lloyd, said otter numbers nationwide were "very healthy" and in some places cause "severe problems for fisheries".

As part of the project, the Canal and River Trust said volunteers will be creating fish refuges to help maintain numbers where otters hunt.

DNA analysis of otter droppings, to work out how many otters are living along the canals in the Midlands and how far they travel along the waterways, will also be carried out.

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