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Otter killed by net sparks poaching fears

PUBLISHED: 06:53 26 October 2013

Mark Mehaffey at the Little Ouse in Brandon.

Mark Mehaffey at the Little Ouse in Brandon.

Archant

Fears have been raised over a rise in animal poaching after an otter was killed by an illegal fishing net.

Wildlife lover Mark Mehaffey, from Brandon, made the grisly find when out walking along the Little Ouse on Tuesday.

The female otter had become trapped in a net used for crabbing, which had not been licensed and tagged in the proper way.

Mr Mehaffey said: “I saw fur in the net and thought it was strange, so I grabbed a branch and pulled it out. When I looked in there I couldn’t believe it.

“They have probably had no intention of killing an otter, but it shows how irresponsible it is to use these illegal nets.”

The net was tied to a tree by fishing line and works like a valve, allowing the fish to swim in before the opening closes.

The find has prompted concerns of a rise in illegal poaching in the Brandon area.

Charlie Snare, of Brandon District Angling Club, helps manage the Brandon Pond, a wel-used fishing area.

He said he had seen an increase in people illegally catching fish and other animals to take home and eat.

“It’s been a big problem but we’ve tried to get it under control.

“They seem to want to catch anything they can eat - I’ve even seen ducks and swans being taken.

“We’re asking people to be vigilant when they are walking by the river to spot these nets and to look out for people who are doing things they shouldn’t be,” he said.

Fish being caught for food include carp, pike and eels, according to Mr Snare.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency confirmed that a report of a dead otter had been made.

“We have sent the body to the Cardiff University Otter Project, which is a national scheme that performs post-mortem examinations on otters found dead in England and Wales.

“We also keep a record of the locations where they are found so we know more about the distribution of otters in our area,” he said.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust have also been informed of the find.

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