Dorset caravan park owner jailed for shooting otter

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Dead otterImage source, Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption,
Stuart Jones shot the otter after it became trapped trapped in a net

An entrepreneur who killed an otter to stop it eating his fish has been jailed for two months.

Stuart Jones shot the protected mammal after it became trapped in a fishing net at the Lyons Gate Caravan Park and Fishery near Dorchester, Dorset in July, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

Jones, 54, was seen by holidaymakers who reported him to police.

At a hearing last month, he pleaded guilty to setting an illegal trap and killing a protected wild animal.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Jones, of Chilthorne Domer, Yeovil, Somerset, had complained to visitors to his campsite that he was unhappy about losing valuable fish, and had set an illegal trap as he did not want to spend money on fencing.

When an otter became caught in an angler's net, he took the opportunity to shoot the animal in the head at point-blank range with his rifle before discarding the carcass in woodland.

A post-mortem examination showed it was a male otter between 10 months and two years old.

A cage trap attached to a feed pipe on the lake was later seized by police.

Image source, Dorset Police
Image caption,
Jones attached a cage trap to a feed pipe on the lakeside

Mark Gammon of the CPS said: "Jones had plenty of options to stop the otter from eating his fish, but he decided that he would save himself the expense of a fence by shooting the otter.

"He did this with no regard for the otter or the holidaymakers who were witness to this traumatic incident."

Dave Webb of the UK Wild Otter Trust said it was a "terrible crime against a highly protected species".

The CPS said it would be trying to secure a confiscation order for the cost of the fencing which Jones had saved by acting illegally.