Otters on the River Welland have quite literally been thrown a lifeline by the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency has installed eight specially-designed landing points for the animals along a 800-metre section of the river in Spalding.
The move follows an incident last summer in which a young otter cub was seen struggling to hang onto a chain link fence in a bid to get out of the channel, which is sheet-piled on both sides.
Nikki Loveday, of the Environment Agency’s Fisheries and Biodiversity Team, said: “The otters were hanging onto the fence that is attached to the piling in an attempt to climb into a highways outfall pipe some 1.5 metres above the water. Luckily, our operations guys heard one of the otters crying and lowered a pallet into the water for the otters to climb onto. After regaining their strength, the otters got back into the water and swam off.”
As a result of the incident - the first time otters had been spotted on the section of the Welland through the centre of Spalding - permanent refuge platforms have now been installed.
The refuge platforms are made up of one-metre square plastic pontoons which can be filled with ballast to determine how high or low they sit in the water. The pontoons, which were installed earlier this month, have been fixed to the existing sheet piles to allow otters to climb out of the water to rest.
Nikki said: “The presence of otters is a sign that water quality in this section of the River Welland has improved. The new pontoons will make sure that otters are able to find somewhere to rest along this section of the river and will hopefully reduce the risk of incidents like the one we saw last summer which could have caused the otter cub to drown happening again.”
The otter refuges are just one example of the work the Environment Agency is doing to improve the River Welland for people and wildlife. And people in the area are being asked to help shape their local river.
The Environment Agency is currently running Challenges & Choices, a consultation which aims to tackle the challenges facing rivers and lakes and wants people in Lincolnshire to take the opportunity to have their say on what should be done to improve them.
Challenges & Choices runs until 22 December and is open to everyone, from businesses to utility companies to wildlife groups and individuals. People can have their say online at www.environmentagency.gov.uk/challengesandchoices, by email, fax or letter. Links to the consultation can also be found on Twitter #valuingwater #loveyourriver and the Environment Agency’s Facebook pages.