British Wildlife 14.5 June 2003

Twitcher in the Swamp

"Ever on the lookout for cheerful news, Twitcher was naturally intrigued by the newspaper headlines celebrating the return of the Otter. 'Otter Joy' was the favourite one, follwed by 'Otter Claw-back' and 'Otterly Amazing'. Closer inspection revealed that Otters have not, in fact, done anything particulalry newsworthy. The headlines were based on an Environment Agency report that told us what we already knew – that Otters are slowly recovering from a low point in the 1970s, when their breeding performance had become reduced by pesticide poisoning. Now, eager Otter fans, snuffling up and down the riverbanks, are finding more and more piles of Otter poo, or spraints, as they are known. In fact, all things considered, 'Otter Crap' might have made a better headline."

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