Contents to Research papers. S.O.G. Publication 4. The otter population of the river Tone in Somerset James Williams Somerset otter surveys 2006 – Evidence of a decline Somerset …
Somerset Otter Group is an organisation of active naturalists. By pooling their expertise and results, we discover more about our population of this elusive mammal. In addition to the main annual 2 day survey, most of the surveyors send monthly reports on their patch to SERC; this is what the group was started for. However, our horizons have expanded since then, and wider research is being done.
Several surveyors check a site on their patch daily, and many have automatic cameras installed. This amount of detail is very revealing, and gives a much better idea of the actual situation out on the rivers. We would like to expand this form of population sampling, which detects fluctuations in numbers well.
Current areas of detailed research focus are the strength of the otter occupation in Somerset. As part of this study we record all births and deaths. Dead otters are collected and sent to the Cardiff University Otter Project for post mortem; they are undertaking a wide suite of investigations, including contaminants in the environment concentrated in otters as the top aquatic predator, and the new parasite, the bile fluke, which is affecting so many of our otters.
The methodical recording of deaths enables us to identify danger spots on roads and to implement preventive measures.