We have always been very keen to determine the success rate of our otter holts, but finding this out with a product which is used underground in relatively remote locations can be a challenge. The fact that we are relying on our customers to send us information, and that it is an offence to disturb an otter holt without a licence make it even more difficult. Last year we supplied an otter holt to Yorkshire Water for their reserve at Tophill Low – I got an email today from Richard Hampshire, the reserve warden, with some great news.
“Hello Chris – you had mentioned before you were keen to demonstrate any proven success with the artificial holts; well here you go!
“We installed the holt in April 2011 for BBC inside out with our volunteers and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - here is a youtube link:
“We subsequently felled all the trees and landscaped the area (including dumping around 2 tonnes of poplar roots on top of the structure in October). We haven’t had the trail cam on it yet and hope to when the vegetation grows up a bit. However in the snow last week you will see a spectacular otter slide (above) all the way down the river bank into the ditch and the tracks lead straight into the pictured left hand hole of the holt pipe (right).Hope that’s of use!" Richard - Tophill Low NR.
It certainly is Richard, and thank you so much for your feedback. We have always been confident that the holts were being successfully used in the wild after their use in the captive trials undertaken by the British Wildlife Centre, but getting the evidence has always proved elusive. I can’t wait to see the pictures from Richard’s Trail Cam! We are hoping to install a holt locally with inbuilt CCTV cameras which we can monitor to establish breeding success, but we are still talking to the landowner…watch this space!