Ribble Rivers Trust seeks volunteer otter watchers

Could otter numbers be rising on the Ribble? The Ribble Rivers Trust aims to find out with the help of a dozen new volunteers - could you be one of them?

By Fiona Finch
Thursday, 19th August 2021, 3:45 pm

The Ribble Rivers Trust is seeking volunteers to carry out a special conservation task ... surveying the River Ribble catchment for signs of otters at local sites.

It has organised three training events this autumn for volunteers. For a fee of £30 the would be otter spotters will be expected to take part in two online training events on October 11 and 18, before making a site visit to the Ribble catchment on Saturday, October 23.

The Trust says the price is “heavily subsidised” and all who take part must attend all three events and will be expected to assist with otter surveys on the catchment.

A new survey aims to discover if otter numbers are increasing on the River Ribble, which rises in Yorkshire and flows through Lancashire to Preston

Trust spokeswoman Ellie Brown said: "People need to be local to the Ribble catchment and there will probably be a small number of surveys a year. We do only have 12 places on the course."

The Trust’s publicity for its otter survey initiative notes: “Eurasian otters are ‘near threatened’ with extinction, with their population having crashed in the UK in the last century due to pollution, habitat loss and hunting, amongst other things. However, their numbers do appear to be recovering, so we’d like to train a group of volunteers to survey for otters and help us gain a better picture of their distribution and assess the benefits our projects provide for otters.”

Ellie added: "We know the (otter) population is increasing, but we don't really have any idea how many there are."

Topics to be covered include the otter’s status, ecology and place within the river ecosystem, approaches to daytime and evening surveys and the potential use of artificial holts in conservation work.

The Trust, which is based in Clitheroe, also leads regular guided walks in the Ribble catchment and organises regular volunteer days, The catchment includes the Ribble, Hodder, Calder, Darwen and Douglas rivers. For more information see here or https://ribbletrust.org.uk/volunteering/

To book a place on the otter survey training or to book other Trust events see here

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