UK Wild Otter Trust
The UK Wild Otter Trust is a Devon-based charity dedicated to protecting and promoting a positive understanding of the European Otter and its conservation. As well as rescuing and rehabilitating otters from all over the UK, they also raise awareness, educate and campaign to help ensure the welfare and conservation of this much-loved native species. Despite being a small charity, they are a highly respected authority on the rehabilitation of otters, and a grant from the Matthew Good Foundation will enable them to significantly increase the capacity of their rescue centre.
The UK Wild Otter Trust’s rehabilitation centre takes in injured or abandoned otters with the sole aim of getting them fit for the return into the wild where they belong. In the wild, cubs would normally stay with their mum for 12 to 18 months, so the centre must replicate this, a process which costs up to £3,000 per cub.
Raising the otters to be healthy whilst remaining capable of returning to the wild requires specialist expertise, as does a successful release process. With support with feeding and post monitoring – the team’s process allows the otters decide the pace at which they integrate into the wild. They have a 100% success rate with their releases.
The organisation started out with founder Dave Webb caring for two abandoned otters in his back garden, and has grown to become a highly respected large rehabilitation centre, run by an extremely experienced and passionate team of wildlife professionals. However, all of the team are volunteers and rely on donations to run the centre.
The organisation is now the largest UK rehabilitation centre for wild otters, working with the RSPCA and other wildlife rescue organisations to take in otters from all over the UK. Well respected for the care they provide, they also provide advice to rescue centres outside of the UK including Poland, Austria and Greece.
As well as rehabilitating wild otters, the team are also very passionate about increasing awareness of the species and working with other stakeholders to protect and conserve them. In the UK, we have only one species of otter – the Eurasian Otter – which is considered ‘near threatened’ due decreasing populations caused by loss of habitat and pollution.
The team work to assist the conservation of the species, working with the public to promote responsible otter watching, organising walks and other outreach initiatives. They also work with other professional groups to improve our understanding of their ecology, and they have won an award for their work engaging with fishery owners and anglers.
The organisation’s rehabilitation site currently comprises of 20 purpose-built otter cub rehabilitation enclosures, one site hospital room and four indoor cub monitoring rooms with water and electric. A grant from the Matthew Good Foundation will help them to install a second cub hospital room, which they have costed at £3,000. Completing this work will mean they can increase their capacity to 40 animals.