News story

New otter class licence issued

Natural England has issued a class licence permitting those registered to capture and transport otters trapped inside fisheries.

Only people who can demonstrate knowledge, ability and experience with trapping otters may be registered to act under this licence.

The class licence will enable individuals to deal with trapped otters as they are found – without having to apply for an individual licence for each otter. This streamlined approach will help speed up the safe relocation of otters when they have been trapped inside fenced fisheries.

The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is a European Protected Species and also fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is illegal to kill an otter or take it by certain methods without a licence from Natural England.

James Cross, Chief Executive of Natural England said:

The new class licence is a common sense approach that will benefit both otters and fisheries - and embodies Natural England’s commitment to working with partners and safeguarding our wildlife for everyone.

What benefits will the licence bring?

The licence will speed up the process for capturing and relocating otters that manage to get in to fisheries that have been fenced to exclude them. Having a group of trained people who can operate under the licence will avoid the need for individual licence applications. The process ensures the protection of otters.

Who can operate under the licence?

We will only register people who can demonstrate that they are skilled and knowledgeable about otter trapping. While Natural England runs a training course, we will consider applicants who haven’t taken it but can prove they have the necessary skills and experience.

Where will the otters be relocated to?

It is a requirement that otters are released at the nearest suitable location on the outside of the otter-proof fencing where they can resume activity in their home range.

What checks will be in place?

The registered persons must notify Natural England so the local wildlife adviser is aware and has the opportunity to undertake a compliance visit. A licence return must be submitted 14 days after using the licence. If a registered user does not use the licence they must still submit an annual ‘nil’ return in order to stay registered.