Tackley Local History Group

Tackley History Mysteries No. 9

Have Otters Returned to Tackley?

On 8 May 1947 the Banbury Guardian reported that an angler had seen four otters working the River Cherwell at Tackley. Sightings of otters before then were common, and they were regularly hunted locally. But hunting, habitat loss and extensive use of pesticides meant that during the 1950s they began to disappear from here and most of the UK. By the 1970s they were largely confined to Scotland, West Wales and the West Country.

They are now returning. Over the last ten years there has been an increase in sightings along the Cherwell, from Oxford city to north of Banbury, though as yet none at Tackley. But they are close by. Neil Wilson has seen them at the RSPB Otmoor reserve, through which the river Ray flows before joining the Cherwell at Islip. There has been evidence of otters at the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust reserves further up the Ray. And John Cooper saw them about four years ago near Shipton-on-Cherwell. Have they reached Tackley?

Otters have an acute sense of smell, hearing and eyesight; and they are shy creatures, so you are more likely to spot their spraint (poo/scat) or see their claw marks than an otter itself. They have large territories and can travel as much as 20 miles between river systems and food sources. They could also be moving along the valleys of the Dorn and Glyme.

For more information on these elusive animals and what to look out for see The Wildlife Trusts and The Mammal Society.

If you have seen an otter or evidence of their presence near Tackley, let us know and we will pass the information on to The Otter Trust.

Research and text: John Perkins & Rachel Strachan

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