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Otter kills thousands of pounds worth of fish in raids on garden ponds in Newton Hall, Durham
A VORACIOUS otter has been raiding garden ponds on a North-East housing estate killing pet fish worth thousands of pounds – and driving people to their wits’ end.
A wildlife expert has told residents there is nothing much they can about the errant animal, apart from covering their ponds with metal mesh to safeguard their expensive pets.
The otter, a protect species, is believed to have made its way across a series of ponds and wetlands to Newton Hall, in Durham City, from the River Wear more than a mile away.
Keith Wood, of Raby Road, said: “Just before Christmas I first noticed two of my golden orfe, measuring 20 inches, had gone from my pond.
“A month later the otter took five fish over three nights. I was at a loss, so stayed up one night and saw it come and take a koi carp in front of my eyes.”
He added: “I put a temporary fence up and the little blighter still got in and took three gold fish. I secured it since and installed a CCTV camera and recorded the otter trying, unsuccessfully, to get in.
“It has a devastating loss. I have had my fish for about 20 years.”
Ron Atkinson, also of Raby Road, said he had covered his pond for the winter and discovered a fortnight ago his fish, worth £1,000 to replace, had all been taken.
He said: “We have had a pond for 30 years. We are not very happy.”
His neighbour, Peter Connor, said the otter had removed all of his fish – some of them up to 25-years-old.
He said: “Surely the fish have as much right to life as the otter.”
Durham Wildlife Trust reserves manager Mark Richardson said: “There is not a great deal that can be done. If an otter finds a pond that has got fish in, it will return.
“There will be lots of ponds on the estate with fish in. If there is a rich source of food the otter will hang around for a while. It’s a bit like a fox in a henhouse.
“My advice to people is to take protection measures put metal mesh over their ponds. It will eventually have to look for food elsewhere. ”
Motion-activated security lights are another option.
He said: “You can’t trap the otter and move without a special licence from Natural England. And even if you did that there is no guarantee the otter wouldn’t come back again.”