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Do UK survey licenses for otter support best practice?

White, Patrick; Findlay, Melanie



Under the Habitats Regulations, resting/breeding places of otters (Lutra lutra) are protected from damage and disturbance, and ecologists are expected to identify such structures. Following an extensive programme of research, we now believe there is a more robust evidence base for what survey protocols are needed to identify such sites. In this article we (1) summarise some key aspects we believe represent evidence-based best practice for identification of otter resting and breeding sites, and (2) critically review the licensing conditions for otter surveys in the UK nations. Licensing for surveys with respect to otter holts varies between nations and in some cases could inhibit robust data collection, and thus we call for these to be reviewed. We also discuss the thorny issue of differing perceptions of disturbance, which inevitably accompanies our call for more intensive monitoring. We argue that there are potential repercussions resulting from suboptimal survey that outweigh any perceived disturbance from camera-trapping.

Journal Article Type Commentary
Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2024
Online Publication Date Mar 6, 2024
Publication Date 2024-03
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 7, 2026
Print ISSN 1754-4883
Publisher Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Issue 123
Pages 48-52
Public URL
Publisher URL


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