A New ‘Home’ for Coalisland Otters

Otters (or least an otter), have taken up residence in an artificial holt built close to the Coalisland Canal.

As throughout much of Europe, the wildlife in and around the canal has suffered in the past through poor water quality.  However, in latter years, improved water quality has seen a return of many aquatic species, including the otter.  Although a few otters are using the canal, it was felt that the area could be very much improved through the provision of artificial dens known as otter holts.  An otter will use a number of holts within its territory to rest up and shelter while foraging for food.  They are usually formed from holes in the river bank, hollow trees, cavities in rocks, log piles and tree roots. They will also shelter above ground on couches of vegetation in scrub, reeds and long grass.

Through the enthusiasm of a group of local people, a partnership was developed to create some new otter holts to make up for the lack of natural sites.  A suitable area was identified and a keen landowner provided the site for the first of these.  The materials were gathered together and with a good turn out of motivated participants, a new otter holt was built.  It is envisaged that this sturdy construction will last many years, with hopefully one of the local otters taking up permanent residence.

Within a few months of construction, the landowner reported seeing otter spraints on a small bridge very close to the holt, and there is evidence that ‘something’ is using the holt.  The grass leading up to one of the entrances has been trampled so something is going in and out.  However, being extremely shy animals and generally nocturnal, a close inspection was not carried out so as not to disturb any resting otter.

This holt was the first of a number that have been and will be created in suitable locations across the Mid Ulster area.  If you would like to find out more about the projects that will be undertaken as part of the Mid Ulster Biodiversity Action Plan, please contact Mark Edgar, (details above).