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Our work to care for otters

Otter standing amidst foliage at the edge of a river
Otter numbers have bounced back in recent years | © National Trust Images / Jim Bebbington

Otters are one of the UK’s best conservation success stories of recent years. They nearly became extinct in some areas between the 1950s and 1970s, but thanks to efforts to improve water quality and increased protection they can now be found across the UK, including several of our special places.

Improving water quality

One of the main reasons otters came so close to extinction in the 1950s and 1960s was the growing use of organochlorine pesticides in agriculture. These chemicals seeped into rivers and lakes, severely depleting the fish stocks that the otters depended on.

Today, one of the most important things we can do to help these creatures thrive is to provide them with habitats in which they are able to sustain themselves. Our rangers and volunteers have been working hard over recent years to improve water quality at National Trust places, ensuring there is a stable food chain that can support the otters.

Finding a good home

Otters are semi-aquatic and live in dens called ‘holts’ on water edges. Otters will sometimes dig their own holts, but they will also make use of existing structures like enlarged rabbit holes, cavities between tree roots and even man-made structures.

At several of our places, rangers and volunteers have been busy building holts for otters to use and making sure that the habitat is suitable for them. As a conservation charity, it's vital that we look after these places so that wildlife such as otters can continue to thrive.

Low view of daffodils and scillas colouring the ground that surrounds trees at Waddesdon, Oxfordshire

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