South Scotland

Loch Stroan otter killed in crayfish trap

Image caption Otters are a protected by law and there are heavy fines for harming them

Police have urged the public not to use unlicensed fishing equipment after an otter was killed in a crayfish trap in southern Scotland.

The animal was found dead at Loch Stroan in Dumfries and Galloway at about 1115 BST on Monday.

Police warned that otters were protected by law and trapping crayfish was also illegal without a licence.

They advised anyone needing information on fishing legislation to contact their local police wildlife officer.

The waters in nearby Loch Ken have had a significant problem with huge numbers of a non-native species, the American signal crayfish.

A five-month trapping programme in 2009 caught and killed more than 700,000 of them.

The signal crayfish has been blamed for eating young fish in the area and destroying their habitat.

However, Pc Kevin Nicholson of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said the latest incident highlighted the dangers of unlicensed traps.

He said: "Otters are heavily protected by law, whether killed intentionally or not and trapping crayfish in Scotland is illegal without a licence.

"The public can receive a substantial fine for harming an otter and I would advise against the inappropriate use of any fishing equipment.

"Anyone needing further advice on fishing legislation I would encourage to contact their local wildlife officer on 0845 600 5701."

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