Otter spotters can now bank on Yorkshire!

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THINGS are certainly getting otter in the Leeds area as the majestic river mammal makes its presence felt in our waterways.

More and more sightings of the species have been made in the area – even close to Leeds city centre.

There were sightings at Kirkstall Abbey in July and they have also been noted in the River Aire at Silsden near Keighley and the River Wharfe near Collingham.

There has been evidence of otters for at least nine years on the Calder through Wakefield.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which manages nature reserves across the region, says the species has made a major recovery since disappearing from our rivers in the 1950s due to pollution and hunting.

Volunteers carry out otter surveys and the results are fed to local data centres.

A Trust spokeswoman said: “Thanks to funding from (recycling company) SITA, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has been able to enhance the otter’s habitat on Yorkshire’s riverbanks.

“Work has included creating further wetland sites, planting shrubs to provide otters with areas to lie up and hide safely for the day, constructing otter platforms and installing artificial holts along riverbanks.

“Increased interest from landowners to get involved with our water for wildlife projects have meant that we have been able to improve a great many habitats, with around 20 holts being built on the River Aire.”

Don Vine, A Trust conservation officer who works on the River Aire Otters and Rivers Project, told the YEP: “Otters are returning naturally to a lot of our watercourses and work by conservation organisations like Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is improving habitats, raising awareness and setting in place surveying that gives us a more accurate overall picture of what is happening on the ground.

“On my own patch, the Middle and Upper Aire, signs are very encouraging with sightings in unlikely places like the Dark Arches under Leeds City Station.”

If people see an otter they are asked to contact the Trust at 1 St George’s Place in York so the data can be added to records.

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