Otters and their places of refuge are protected in the UK under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). Under this Act it is illegal to either directly or indirectly:
- capture, kill, disturb or injure otters;
- damage or destroy a breeding or resting place;
- obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places.
A presence/absence survey for otters will determine whether a site is being used by this species by looking for activity signs comprising:
- holts (permanent places of habitation);
- lying-up places;eeding remains;
- spraints (droppings);
- prints and tracks; and
- ‘slides’ into watercourses.
Otter surveys can be undertaken throughout the year.