Otters have been recorded in both freshwater/riverine and coastal habitats, using waterside holes or cavities as shelters. To counteract the increased rate of heat loss in the colder waters over winter, otters often fish for longer periods than in the summer months.

Otters do not hibernate over winter therefore measures must be taken to ensure works avoid harming active otters, and to ensure that operatives are aware of them.

  • Preliminary checks for otters must be conducted if works are likely to affect freshwater or coastal habitats. These checks can include local record searches for otters, and presence surveys with a systematic search for field signs, which should be conducted by a suitably qualified ecologist.
  • Any works which cannot avoid disturbing or injuring otters, or destroying their shelters, will require a mitigation licence from Natural England before proceeding.
  • When working near watercourses, operatives should always be made aware of the potential for otters to be present, and be advised on the steps to take if one is found.