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The Predation Action Group – UK & European Otter Culling Laws

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Otters are protected by the EC Habitats Directive

In England and Wales otters are fully protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) (the Habitats  Regulations). In the following description an otter holt includes hovers and couches, which are otter resting places above ground. Artificial holts are not considered as holts under the legislation until they are known to be used by otters. The Habitats Regulations  make it illegal to:

• Deliberately capture, injure or kill an otter

• Deliberately disturb an otter in such a way as to be likely to significantly affect the local distribution or abundance of otters or  the ability of any significant group of otters to survive, breed, rear  or nurture their young

• Damage or destroy an otter holt

• Possess or transport an otter or any part of any otter

• Sell (or offer for sale) or exchange an otter

Otters have become exempt from many of the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). However, otters are still protected under Section 9(4)(b) and (c) and (5) of the Wildlife and  Countryside Act. This means that, in addition to the provisions of the Habitats Regulations, it is also illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to:

• Intentionally or recklessly disturb any otter whilst it is occupying a holt

• Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a holt


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