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|Project Manager||Dr. Neil Reid|
|Sub-contractor(s)||Dr. Robbie McDonald, FERA|
|Dr. Karina Dingerkus & Dr. Richard Stone|
|Client Officer||Dr. Ferdia Marnell|
The otter (Lutra lutra) is protected under the
Irish Wildlife Acts (1976 & 2000) and is also listed on Annexes II and IV
of the EU Habitats Directive. This Habitats Directive listing obliges Ireland
to undertake surveillance of the species [as per Article 11] and to report
regularly on the species conservation status [as per Article 17].
Despite being widespread throughout Ireland, the otter was deemed to be in poor conservation status in the most recent Article 17 report.
The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) has also published a Threat Response Plan for the otter in 2009. This plan included an action to initiate a new national otter survey in 2010. The plan also recognises the need for the otter population to improve if it is to reach favourable conservation status. A target of 88% occupancy in SACs designated for the otter and no less than 70% outside those SACs has been set. The Plan also reviews the major threats facing the otter in Ireland.
Previous national otter surveys have been conducted in Ireland, most recently in 2004/05. An ongoing programme of rapid assessment surveys, based on the “spot-check” approach is also underway in the Republic of Ireland with a rolling programme of 8 catchments being surveyed in detail every two years.
Quercus manages the new survey which will meet NPWS obligations for the species under Article 11 of the EU Habitats Directive. The survey examines the concerns raised in the Article 17 report for this species; helps to provide the necessary population and habitat data to inform the next Article 17 report; provides an update on the population targets set in the Threat Response Plan and allows for national and regional comparisons with the results of previous otter surveys in Ireland.
A total of 75 NPWS Conservation Rangers are assisting in the field surveys.
The specific aims of the project are to:
Organise and manage a national otter survey for the Republic of Ireland that will provide:
- an up to date understanding of otter distribution
- an estimate of adult population size, including an assessment of progress on reaching the population targets set in the Threat Response Plan for the otter
- an assessment of population trend
- an indication of regional variation (e.g. between WFD river basin districts)
- robust data on habitat usage in Ireland
- as assessment of otter diet, including a comparison with previous studies