England

Angler John Wilson wants East Anglian otters controlled

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Media captionThe recovery in otter numbers has been so successful that native fish are under threat and some anglers believe controls may be needed.

An angler and broadcaster has called for otter numbers in East Anglia to be controlled to preserve fish stocks.

John Wilson said otters "eating through all the big fish" had helped reduce numbers in the River Wensum.

The Norfolk-based angler wants otters to be trapped and moved to other locations with better fish stocks.

Suffolk conservationist Penny Hemphill said the success of the otters, which have been reintroduced into the area, meant "fish stocks are good".

Mr Wilson, who has presented fishing programmes on TV, written several books about angling and fished all over the world, said otters, "like all animals put into an environment, need to be managed".

"Our forefathers knew it and that's why they shot them and hunted them."

'No fry now'

He said the animals, which he called a "giant predator rat with Doberman teeth", were one of a number of predators, including the American crayfish, cormorants and mink, that had an impact on fish numbers.

"We are not going to have anything left before long," he said.

"This river used to be alive with fry, but there are too many predators now.

"If there are no fry now, where are the fish of tomorrow coming from? It's like Armageddon."

Farming practices and hunting led to the near-extinction of otters by the 1970s, when they became a protected species.

They were reintroduced to English waterways from the 1980s onwards.

Ms Hemphill, from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said the reintroduction had been "successful beyond our dreams", which "means fish stocks are good".

She said they were a sign of good quality habitat and water and that "fishermen weren't used to having otters around".

"There aren't hundreds on our rivers, there is just a balance," she said.

"There are only so many otters per kilometre of river and they aren't going to expand more than that."

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