The data collection period for the 6th National Otter Survey of England finished in January 2023. Thank you to our wonderful professional and volunteer surveyors across England.
Outstanding results can be submitted via our Results Submission Google Form.
The otter is the top freshwater predator in the UK and its status is a key indicator of the health of our waterways. The first national otter survey was initiated in 1977-1979, responding to concerns about the species’ decline. Four further otter surveys, the last one being in 2009-10, have since charted the recovery of otters from near extinction. The main objective of the current survey is to assess whether the trajectory of recovery has continued. It is particularly timely in light of the potential declines recorded by the recent sixth national otter survey of Wales.
In each of the National Otter Surveys, alternate 50km grid cells of England have been monitored by professional ecologists. However, this provides coverage of only around half of England, and therefore recent surveys have also included volunteer surveillance of the remaining grid cells. The method used by volunteers is simpler than that applied by professional surveyors but nevertheless has provided robust data on the distribution of otters in England.
The Mammal Society managed the 6th National Otter Survey of England in 2022/2023. The project was jointly funded by The Environment Agency and Natural England with additional support from South West Water, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water and Southern Water.
As well as the professionally surveyed 50km squares across England, experienced volunteer surveyors were invited to register for 10km grid cells in which they would look for signs of otter, mink and beaver.
A PDF of volunteer involvement with the 6th National Otter Survey of England can be downloaded here.
How can I get involved?
Though this year’s survey is now complete, there are still ways that you can help to contribute to our understanding of mammals across the British Isles. Our free Mammal Mapper App, which is available on the App Store or Google Play, provides a user-friendly way to submit records of any mammals that you see, including otters. The app also includes lots of photographs of mammals and their field signs to help you to identify what you’ve seen.
More about Otters
You can find out more about our UK Otters, including where they live and their identifying features on our species page. Understand more about Eurasian Otters through our Mammal Society Mini Course created by Susan Young. Through a 14-page flipbook you’ll be able to see where this mammal lives, understand it’s general ecology and test your knowledge at the end. We also have a printable General fact sheet (click to download) and Field sign fact sheet (click to download).