18 Aug 2011:
UK Otter Populations Rebound
Two Decades After Near Extinction
Environmental officials say otter populations have returned to every county in the United Kingdom
, just two decades after pollution had nearly wiped them out. At least two otters have been found building
homes along rivers in Kent, the last county where the animals had not been found in recent decades, according to the UK’s Environment Agency. Wildlife experts say the animal began disappearing in the mid-1950s, probably as a result of powerful organochlorine pesticides washing into their river habitats. While the chemicals were banned in the mid-1960s, populations of the animal continued to decline; by the late-1970s, a study found otters in only 5 percent of sites where they once lived. Programs to clean up England’s rivers, which brought back fish to once-polluted waterways, and legal protection of the otter began to reverse the trend in the 1990s, as otters began to return eastward from strongholds in the west. The latest survey of otter populations, conducted between 2009 and 2010, found the animal in 60 percent of 2,940 locations where they were once found.
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