Protected predator's prey observation question

Just a quick one. I made an observation of an otter recently (UK based so a protected species) and the observation location was automatically obscured. At the same site today I found some crayfish remains which are likely to be from the otter’s recent meals. The crayfish make a useful observation I think but they undermine the obscured location of the otter observation. I assume I just obscure the crayfish location but I thought I’d ask for opinions first.

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Feel free to obscure the crayfish if you feel this is necessary, but it probably isn’t too important.

What’s more important are the relative observation dates of the two observations. I can’t tell from your post if the two observations are close together in time, but if they are, you should obscure both observations even if they have no other relationship.


Would the otter be in danger of poaching or disturbance? Why ar they listed as threatened?


Good questions, @tiwane. The principal threats to otters in the UK are listed as “road traffic accidents; drowning in fish and lobster traps; and pollution such as oil and PCBs.”

NatureScot lists the main threat to otters in Scotland as being road accidents, and other threats as “commercial eel fishing and ‘creeling’ for crustaceans”.

They were listed as threatened in 1978 because their numbers had crashed due to the threat above, plus hunting and particularly the widespread pollution of waterways with organochloride pesticides. Otter hunting has been banned in the UK since 1981, and I’m not aware of any reports of it continuing past that date. The recent news coverage I can find about otter deaths mostly concerns the problems with traps mentioned above.

It seems more likely that UK otters would benefit more from having unobscured locations shown on iNat (facilitating better protection efforts) than they would be harmed by this. One hypothetical risk would be that publicising otter locations might encourage so many human visits that they would be disturbed, but my impression is that there is already plenty of information about which rivers have otters, and that the animals are perfectly able to evade humans if they want to.


I wouldn’t fret about obscuring an animal that’s elusive and mobile. The location obscuring is more valuable for something that can be readily poached.


I’m not 100% sure why the location gets obscured but illegal persecution does still occur in parts of the UK so it’s probably a blanket protection against that.

> The Wild Otter Trust says

‘In recent years the otter has encountered new and varied threats, including habitat destruction (road building, new urban development), persecution by fishery owners and gamekeepers (as they are seen as a threat to fish and game birds – which is untrue)’

This is one recent case of illegal persecution but I imagine it’s more widespread than media coverage suggests given that illegal raptor persecution still seems to be persistent occurrence across the country.

I’m not aware of any groups that would want to do them harm in this area though and the invasive crayfish are probably more of a threat to fish than the otters would be so showing that they’re helping the habitat may actually be a good thing for them.


I may be being naive and ascribing too much rationality to irrational behavior, but I can imagine someone harassing the otter they’ve already come into contact with, out of some misplaced sense of competition, while it seems less plausible that they’re going to do extensive research to find otters outside of their immediate locality to exterminate.
If they already have boots on the ground, they can read the debris as well as you can.
The location obscuring does help a plant that might be dug up or a reptile’s usual basking spot that it might be poached from.


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