Angling: Otters may be in the frame for vole losses

Otters are specialist hunters.
Otters are specialist hunters.
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ONE subject that the BBC is very good at covering is that of wildlife and I rarely miss the Sunday programme Countryfile.

And at this time of the year they tend to broadcast a series called Springwatch.

It is a fascinating show as it depicts all forms of wildlife in infancy and how it develops into adulthood in a few short weeks.

The one fault with the show is that it can, at times, turn a blind eye to something that is glaringly obvious – a case in point recently being a discussion on the decline of the water vole.

It has been estimated that in the last 30 years there has been a fall of 90 per cent in their population and there is now a big scheme in hand where the voles are being bred in captivity and then released into the wild in a bid to repopulate our waterways.

The two presenters put the blame for the decline on all sorts of things such as flooding and pollution but mainly on the wild mink (thousands of these creatures were released from mink farms by well-meaning activists many years ago).

Mink will kill and eat other small creatures. But what annoyed me was that there was no mention of a similar population surge among the country’s otter population. Otters are very much like mink so, to me, it seems no coincidence that the profusion of one species has led to the decline of another.

People love otters and so they are regularly portrayed as cuddly, lovable creatures, but in reality they are vicious killers and I think it’s about time the show’s presenters revealed this.

Recent articles about de-silting at Temple Newsam elicited a response from Leeds City Council which, for me at least, wasn’t entirely satisfactory.

I still do not know who is to blame for the mix-up.

If, as Civic Hall claims, all fish were removed in 2011 when the Leeds club gave up the use of the lakes as stock ponds, why was the club still paying rent that was due to run out this month – June 2014?

Had the Leeds club known in advance that the lakes were to be drained then they would have electro-fished, which would have guaranteed that all fish were removed.

I maintain that the Leeds club was unaware of what was being planned until an article was published about it in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

At the end of the day, all it needed was a telephone call from Leeds City Council – or from the Temple Newsam Estate – and it would have saved a whole lot of confusion.

Top rod Darren Starkey with a 3-02 perch from the bungalows section on the River Ouse. PIC: Steve Fearnley

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