Otters of the world

Europe

Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra)

The Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) is the only species found in Europe and its population is very depleted.  In some western countries it has become extinct.

For more information click below:

Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra)

IOSF European Conferences

2000 - Otter Toxicology Conference

2003 - The Return of the Otter in Europe - Where and How?

Albania

Species: Eurasian Otter

Otters are widespread throughout the country.

Legal protection: None - legally hunted for fur

Threats: habitat destruction, water pollution, hunting and persecution by fishermen.

Austria

Species: Eurasian Otter

Population seems to be expanding.

Legal protection: Fully protected since 1947

Threats: No threats

Belarus

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread throughout the country with decreases in population to the south-west of the country.  Declined from 1984 to 1991 due to poaching.

Legal protection: Trapped with special licences.

Threats: illegal killing and habitat destruction.

IOSF funded projects

2001 - Otter survey of NE Belarus

2005. Effect of fyke nets on otters in Belarus

2005/06 - Project funding wanted for Belarus

Click here to read Belarus Scientific Report - Sidorovich 2005

Belgium

Species: Eurasian Otter

The otter was once common but since 1980 it is regarded as extinct, although there have been a few sightings in the south over recent years.  Recent reports (June 2006) have reported sightings on the River Semois. www.campingdelasemois.com.

Threats: Rivers are heavily polluted and unsuitable for otters.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread throughout the country

Legal protection: Not known

Threats: Pollution, illegal killing, habitat destruction

Bulgaria

Species: Eurasian Otter

Sporadic population and in recent years it has become endangered. In 2005 the otter was searched for in 111 grid squares in southern Belgium.  It was found in 88 of these and absent in 23. ( Georgiev, D. 2005 )

Legal protection: Fully protected

Threats: Pollution, illegal killing, habitat destruction

Croatia

Species: Eurasian Otter

Common in northern part of the country but lower density along the coast.  Population appears to be stable and increasing (Katica Bezuh, Nature Protection Senior Inspector, 03/2005).According to the Red Data Book of the Republic of Croatia published by the State Institute for Nature Protection in 2004 the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra is classified as Data Deficient (DD) due to the lack of sufficient data required to assess the population status and distribution. Otter presence is reported for some rivers, but no systematic monitoring for the presence of otters in Croatia has been carried out yet. In February2005 we started a systematic survey of otters in the Croatian rivers following the standard method recommended by the IUCN Otter Specialist Group. A total 27 sites were checked for otter sings between June 2004 and July 2005. All sites are located along the rivers Krka (5 sites), Cetina (7 sites), and Lika (15 sites). Otter signs were found in 19 over 27 sites (70%) . Positive sites were found in Krka and Lika rivers,with 80% and 100% of positive sites respectively. No signs of otters were found along the Cetina river. All positive sites are located between 30 and 550 m asl. These preliminary results suggest that otters in Croatia might still occur in good numbers.Nevertheless, the absence of signs of otters in one over three rivers checked indicates

Legal protection:  Protected (Off.gazette 162/03)

Threats: Pollution, illegal killing, habitat destruction

Czech Republic

Species: Eurasian Otter

Three isolated populations occur:  one in the north bordering Germany, one in the east bordering with Slovakia and the third, the densest population, in the central part of the country around the fishponds.

Legal protection: Fully protected

Threats: Pollution with fertilisers and pesticides, illegal hunting

Denmark

Species: Eurasian Otter

Sporadic population and classed as endangered in the country.  A national survey took place in April 2004, and no signs of otter were found in Zealand . Recent survey's have shown a marked increase in the last 10 years. (Elmeras et al 2006)

Legal protection: Fully protected

Threats: Fyke nets and road traffic

Estonia

Species: Eurasian Otter

Sparsely distributed throughout the country.

Legal protection: Protected

Threats: Destruction of waterways, water pollution.

Finland

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread with a patchy distribution and classed as declining.

Legal protection: Fully protected under a hunting law which may only be temporary

Threats: Fish traps, road mortality and some are some are shot by mistaking them for beavers (Skaren, U 2003), which are hunted.

France

Species: Eurasian Otter

Otters are common in the west of the country and in the south but rare or absent from the north and east.  Brittany has about 24% of the population.

Legal protection: Fully protected since 1976

Threats: Destruction of habitat, water pollution and road deaths

Georgia

Species: Eurasian Otter

For PDf report on otters in Georgia click below

reportforIOSF.pdf

Germany

Species: Eurasian Otter

The otter is very endangered in the old Federal Republic, and rare or extinct in other states.

Legal protection: Fully protected

Threats: Fish traps, road mortality, canalisation of rivers and pollution.

Greece

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread throughout the country with the densest population in the north east.  The otter for the first time was found on the south coast of Crete in 2003.( Smet, K D and Lymberakis, 2003)

Legal protection: Fully protected

Threats: Habitat destruction, intensive fish farming, pollution and hunting, fish traps, road mortality, canalisation of rivers and pollution.

Holland

Otter re-introductions in Holland 

This project began in 2002 but at the end of 2004 there was a further search for spraints in the Wieden and Weerribben area, as winter is the best time for this. In the Wieden fresh spraints were found at the locations, where two otters were radio-tracked before the transmitters broke down. In the first weeks of January DNA analysis will hopefully reveal which individual or individuals inhabit this area.

Also in the Weerribben area recent otter activity was visible and fresh spraints were collected. During January and February a more extensive survey will be carried out in and around the marshlands of the Weerribben and Wieden in order to obtain a complete picture of the whereabouts of the otters.  

The radio transmitter of one female is still functioning and she still has her home-range in the area of release.

www.alterra-research.nl

Hungary

Species: Eurasian Otter

Stable population but a decline in areas east of the Danube. 

Legal protection: Protected since 1978.

Threats: Pesticides and fertilizer pollution, killing at fish farms.

Summary of Hungarian otter surveys

Hungary otter survey 2004-2005

IOSF funded projects

2000 - Emergency appeal to help the otters in the river Szamos and Tisza in Hungary after a cyanide spill.

Ireland

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread in the country.

Legal protection: Fully protected but illegal hunting with dogs still goes on

Threats: Fish traps, road mortality, hunting, canalisation of rivers and pollution.

IOSF funded projects

2000 - Campaigned with Irish MPs to stop illegal otter hunting in Cork and Limerick.

Italy

Species: Eurasian Otter

The otter is the most endangered animal in Italy with populations only in the south of the country. In fact 3.4km of the Calore gorgenear Felitto has 60% of the Italian otter population.

Legal protection: Fully protected

Threats: Habitat destruction and organochlorine pollution.

Kazakstan

Species: Eurasian Otter

Present but no more information

Latvia

Species: Eurasian Otter

The otter is found on most water courses but sporadically distributed.  Dense populations are found in the western and eastern parts of the country.

Legal protection: Not known

Threats: Rapid development of agriculture, persecution by crayfish and fish farmers, habitat destruction and organochlorine pollution.

Liechtenstein

Extinct

Lithuania

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread throughout the country.

Legal protection: Fully protected since 1975

Threats: Habitat destruction and loss of food supply due to water pollution.

IOSF funded projects

1995 - The otter and fish farms in Lithuania

Luxembourg

Widespread until the end of the 19th century.  Trapping and pollution has since caused its extinction.

Netherlands

Species: Eurasian Otter

Thought to be extinct after 1989, however in 2002 and 2003 a re-introduction programme has begun.

Web site

Netherlands Otter Site

Norway

Species: Eurasian Otter

The north of the country has healthy populations but to the south they are fragmented.

Legal protection: Protected but licences can be issued to kill otters at fish farms

Threats: Pollution in south, mortality in fish traps and poisonous marine algae along the southern and south west coasts.

IOSF funded projects

1998 - Campaigned to Norwegian Government about the use of Rotenone in the rivers. Rotenone is used by fish farms to control the salmon parasite Gyrodactylus salaris, but is highly toxic to all aquatic life.  Its use is no longer recommended.

Macedonia

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread and numerous along the Albanian border.

Legal protection: Not known.

Threats: Not known.

Montenegro

Species: Eurasian Otter

Animals found in most areas except the central part of the country and west central Montenegro.

Legal protection: Protected as a natural rarity but this law is outdated.

Threats: Not known.

Poland

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widely distributed. (Romanowski 2006)

Legal protection: Protected since 1974.

Threats: Pollution, drowning in fish traps and poaching.

IOSF funded projects

2000 - Helped with advice and otter milk for a baby otter in Poland

Portugal

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widespread and thriving throughout the country in all aquatic habitats.

Legal protection: Protected but licences can be issued to kill otters at fish farms

Threats: Damming of rivers, drought, illegal killing and coastal oil spills

IOSF funded projects

2002 - Helped with advice on bringing up two baby otters in Portugal.

Romania

Species: Eurasian Otter

Little information is available but numbers have declined over the last 40 years and the otter is considered endangered.

Legal protection: Protected but otters can be trapped from 1 October to 1 March.

Threats: Habitat destruction, pollution and poaching.  Trapping takes about 250-300 animals a year.

Russia

Species: Eurasian and Sea Otter

The Eurasian Otter occurs throughout the country with the exception of the Tundra areas.  A decrease in density occurs from the west to the east.  Sea Otters occur in the Asian part of Russia on the Kamchatka peninsula and the Kutlin and Cammander Islands.

NATURE RESERVE IN NORTHERN SAKHALIN

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, August 24 (RIA Novosti's Pyotr Tsyrendorzhiyev) - The Tundrovy state nature biological reserve was created in northern Sakhalin (an island in the Russian Far East).

An appropriate resolution was signed by the Sakhalin Region Governor Ilya Malakhov, a spokesman for the regional administration's press service told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

The nature reserve in the Okhinsk district covers nearly 190,000 hectares of the taiga areas in the Vagis mountains. The reserve was created for an unlimited period of time.

From now on, the rare and disappearing species of flora and fauna on northern Sakhalin will be protected in Tundrovy. It has been planned to preserve the natural habitat of the population of wild reindeer. The Sakhalin taiga is rich in precious sables, Eurasian otters and brown bears, which will be now protected in the Tundrovy preserve.

Any economic activity, sport and amateur hunting and fishing, and the acquisition of land are prohibited in the reserve. Apart from that, bans have been introduced for motor vehicles in the reserve and helicopters cannot fly above the taiga at a height lower than 200 meters.

Russian information agency September 2004

Legal protection: Not known

Threats: Habitat destruction and pollution

IOSF funded projects

1995 - Set up a joint research programme to study the Eurasian Otter in the Central Forest Biosphere reserve.

Help wanted with Sea Otter project

Urgent appeal for Commander Islands

Serbia

Species: Eurasian Otter

Present in the river Gradac's gorge in Serbia.

Legal protection: Protected as a natural rarity but this law is outdated.

Threats: Not known.

Slovenia

Species: Eurasian Otter

The otter occurs throughout the country but is common in the north east.  Detailed information on the distribution of the otter is scarce.

Legal protection: Not known

Threats: Road mortality and habitat loss.

Slovakia

Species: Eurasian Otter

A survey carried out in the 1970's showed it was one of the most endangered animals in the country and has declined from the south east and western lowlands.

Legal protection: Not known

Threats: Road mortality and pollution.

Spain

Species: Eurasian Otter

Widely distributed in the west but threatened in the central and eastern regions.

Legal protection: Protected

Threats: Habitat destruction, tourist developments, drainage of wetlands and illegal hunting and pollution

South Caucasus  (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia)

Species: Eurasian otter

At the beginning of the 1980,s the population was estimated at 6,000.  The otter is one of the most endangered species and still suffers under the influence of poaching, habitat loss, disturbance and pollution. (Gorgadze 2004)

Sweden

Species: Eurasian Otter

Declining population from 1950 to 1980 but re-introduction programmes in central Sweden have shown that the population is increasing.

Legal protection: Protected since 1968

Threats: Habitat destruction and pollution

Switzerland

Extinct since 1989, however today (5/5/05) the following was reported:

In the region of Murten and the Bielersee in Canton Bern, otters have been seen recently.  There were already reports last year and a survey was carried out by the Federal Bureau for the Environment, Forest and Landscape covering the regions of Yverdon, Biel, Solothurn and Aarberg.  Spraint has been found but it is not certain as to the origin of these animals:  it could be that they were always present and just not recorded but this seems unlikely;  alternatively they could just be transients or escapees from a zoo;  it could also be that these animals are spreading from the nearby regions of the Alsace of the Rhonetal.  Genetic analysis of the spraints will be carried out to try to identify the origin of the otters.

Tajikstan

Species: Eurasian Otter

Present but no more information

Turkmenistan

Species: Eurasian Otter

Present but no more information

Turkey

Species: Eurasian Otter

Otter numbers declined in early 1960's.  It is considered rare in the north and endangered in the south.  Because of the fish pond farming in the north of the country the otter has made a comeback.  A database is being set up on otters in Turkey and more information can be found below.

Legal protection: Protected

Threats: Habitat destruction, pollution and recently exploitation from fishermen in the north.

Web site

Otters in Turkey

Turkey otter working group

IOSF funded projects

1996 - IOSF's Turkey project

1997 - Otters in Sultan Marshes

United Kingdom

Species: Eurasian Otter

Otter numbers declined in UK in early 1960's due to organochlorine pollution.  Numbers are still healthy in northern and western Scotland and the UK population is starting to increase, but it is still a long way off the numbers in the early 1950's. The otter is making a major comeback in Wales. According to a new survey, numbers in Wales are leaping ahead of targets - and the biggest increase is in the north. Cleaner rivers, better fish stocks and improved management have increased the survival chances of the much-loved mammals.

The National Otter Survey for Wales, published today, found evidence of otters in 71% of riverbanks and wetland sites.  A survey of otters in Northern Ireland carried out for the DOE Environment and Heritage Service in 2001 and 2002 has shown that the otter population here is in a healthy condition.

Legal protection: Protected since 1979 (England, Wales and N Ireland) and 1983 (Scotland)

Threats: Habitat destruction, pollution and road mortality.

IOSF funded projects

1995 - Otter survey of the Isle of Skye

1995 - Set up otter watch UK a co-ordinated approach to monitoring otters in the UK.

1996 - Otter survey of the Isle of Canna

1999 - Otter survey of the Isle of South Uist

2000 - Otter survey of the Isle of Pabay

2000 - Otter survey of the Isle of  Barra

2001 - Otter survey of the Isle of Eigg

2001 - Installed wildlife warning reflectors on all danger areas on Skye roads after initial trial reduced otter road deaths by 75%.

2002 - Otter survey of the Isle of Coll

2003 - Otter survey of the Isle of Tiree

Web sites

Yorkshire Otters

Otters in North Wales Page

 

Uzbecistan

Species: Eurasian Otter

Present but no more information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is the only otter species in Europe and is the most widely distributed species in the world, today numbers are very depleted particularly in the western parts of Europe.

For more information click below:

Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra)

Albania