The otter has made a significant comeback from the brink of extinction, the Environment Agency has said.

In the 1970s, Otters almost disappeared from England, as pesticides which were routinely used three decades ago brought their numbers to near extinction levels. Now many of those chemicals have been banned and the creatures are present once again in rivers across England.

In many watercourses in the south-west and along the River Wye otter numbers are at maximum capacity. Their numbers are being limited not by pollution but their own territorial behaviour. That recovery is rapidly being matched elsewhere, and otters are now found in every English county except Kent.

There are also healthy populations in Northumbria, Cumbria, Wessex and the Upper Severn.

Paul Raven, head of conservation and ecology at the Environment Agency, said: "The otter is at the top of the food chain, and as such is an important indicator of the health of English rivers.

"The recovery of otters from near-extinction shows how far we've come in controlling pollution and improving water quality."

The agency foresees the species will fully recover in numbers across England in less than 20 years.


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