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‘I’m devastated’ - animal rescue volunteer responds to news of otter killed by illegal crayfish net

PUBLISHED: 06:34 22 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 22 November 2020

Kevin after rescuing a swan. Credit: Submitted

Kevin after rescuing a swan. Credit: Submitted

Archant

A volunteer for Norfolk Wildlife Rescue has said he is “devastated” after an otter was discovered dead after becoming trapped in an illegal crayfish net.

Kevin Murphy, who volunteers by rescuing animals. Credit: SubmittedKevin Murphy, who volunteers by rescuing animals. Credit: Submitted

Kevin Murphy volunteers for Norfolk Wildlife Rescue, the only 24 hour animal rescue project in Norfolk.

Mr Murphy spends much of his time kayaking up the River Wensum, clearing up litter and making sure the animals are safe and is looking for more volunteers to help him do this.

Mr Murphy said: “I am devastated that an iconic, legally protected mammal has died after becoming entangled in an illegal crayfish net.

READ MORE: Much-loved otter dies after getting trapped in illegal crayfish net

The otter killed in the crayfish net became well known for swimming up and down the River Wensum in Norwich. Credit: Phil ColesThe otter killed in the crayfish net became well known for swimming up and down the River Wensum in Norwich. Credit: Phil Coles

“I often kayak down this part of the River Wensum litter picking and making sure all the animals are all right and I have never seen anything like this happen before.”

Mr Murphy said that whilst a dead otter being found dead in a crayfish net has never happened before in Norfolk, he is worried it may happen again.

He said: “This is quite rare and is the first dead otter found caught in a crayfish net in Norfolk.

“I know this has happened in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire before so I hope it isn’t the start of a trend.

The otter was much loved by walkers along the River Wensum. Credit: Richard MillerThe otter was much loved by walkers along the River Wensum. Credit: Richard Miller

“The River Wensum itself needs cleaning. I wish the Environment Agency and Rivers Trust cleaned our waterways more often.”

Crayfish nets are illegal in Norfolk and in other counties fishermen require a license to operate them.

Despite the illegality, it still led to the death of an otter.

Mr Murphy added: “Fishermen simply don’t want to pay lots of money for a license so they carry out crayfish fishing anyway.

The otter was found dead by a dog walker after she became trapped in a crayfish net. Credit: Richard MillerThe otter was found dead by a dog walker after she became trapped in a crayfish net. Credit: Richard Miller

“More awareness needs to be provided to the general public by the Broads Authority about why crayfish fishing is illegal and then hopefully something like this will never happen again.”

Commenting on the death of the otter, Norfolk Rivers Trust project officer Jessie Leach added: “We’ve seen a big rise in trapping illegally since the start of lockdown, this kills our wildlife and can spread crayfish plague to other rivers.

“We must pursue collective environmental action together with organisations.

“We urge members of the public to report any incidences to the Environment Agency.”


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