Volunteers are back on track monitoring Otters across Denbighshire.

Denbighshire County Council’s Otter Monitoring project became operational again in 2022 after a hiatus from 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project also includes recording data on water vole, American mink and non-native invasive vegetation.

There are 55 sites scattered across the county with most of the surveys being undertaken by students from Wrexham Glyndwr University.

Surveys are carried out in their own time on the surveyor’s smartphones and automatically uploaded onto the Biodiversity Teams GIS system. An annual training day is run for new volunteers.

The data gathered will also contribute towards the National Otter Survey.

During the year, over the 55 sites, Otters signs were recorded on nine occasions when the monthly surveys took place. Animal tracks were found four times and spraint on six occasions.

The team of volunteers also recorded Water Vole signs on 14 different occasions during the monthly survey of the county sites and found signs of an American Mink during a single site visit.

Volunteers also recorded on nine visits, invasive non-native vegetation at sites.

Applied Animal Behaviour, Welfare and Conservation students at Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Northop campus, Ellie Reade and Lucy Williams have been involved with the otter monitoring project.

The duo, both from Gloucestershire, joined the project for the experience and gaining new skills after been made aware of opportunity by their lecturer Denise Yorke, Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity and Conservation at Wrexham Glyndwr University.

Ellie said: “I enjoyed doing field work and learning new skills such as identifying field signs and contamination procedures. It was nice to be encouraged to spend time outside and knowing the data we were collecting was useful to the council.

“I learned how much work goes into these monitoring projects and how crucial volunteers are to helping get data. I have learned how important following health and safety procedures are and preventing contamination. I now know what field signs to look for and how to safely look for signs without disturbing wildlife. Also, my problem-solving and communication skills have improved as we had to locate the survey points and find ways to survey the rivers safely.”

Lucy added: “I enjoyed being outdoors and experiencing nature while gaining skills that can be useful for the future

“I learned how to identify animal tracks and spot them in the environment, what the specific signs are. Also, the importance of biosecurity by boot cleaning and preventing contamination.”

Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, said: “We are extremely grateful to all the volunteers who have helped us restart this important biodiversity project.

“The Council is also looking for anyone interested in looking for otters and/or those who regularly walk along a watercourse in the county who would like to contribute to this project as well.”


Pictures Credit: Joel Walley