South Walsham residents rally round to save injured otter
Families from South Walsham have been trying to help an injured otter get back on the road to recovery.
Though relatively rare, otters are a common sight at South Walsham staithe, but when one was found crouching beside the Broad, villagers knew something was wrong.
Only a few metres away from traffic on a busy road, the otter appeared to be unable to move and on closer inspection it was found to have wounds on its head and shoulder.
People feared the animal had gone there to die so they rang the Norwich branch of the RSPCA, which sent out officers within 30 minutes.
However, the otter had been frightened away into a hedgerow, where it could no longer be found.
Villagers feared the worst, but then the otter reappeared last month and the RSPCA was again called.
Once again, it went into hiding, but Peter Crook, vice-chairman of South Walsham Parish Council, said: 'The story has a happy ending. Successive sightings over recent days – confirming by the still-visible scars on its head that it is the same animal – have seen the otter foraging in nearby snowy gardens and feeding and playing in the Broad near the staithe, evidently recovering well.'
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It is not known how the wounds were caused but it is possible they might have been caught by a boat propeller.
The RSPCA says that injured otters are likely to stay within their familiar safety zones.
The number of otters in England has declined since the 1960s due to depletion of their natural habitats on riverbeds.
Otters are a highly protected species under British and European law. They were nearly extinct in Norfolk until 30 years ago when the Otter Trust reintroduced seven of them into the Broads area. This year they were voted Britain's favourite mammal.
Otters are often seen in the Broads' EU-designated Special Area of Conservation, just 350 metres from the staithe and slipway in South Walsham
Their activities are recorded on a frequently-updated Otter Watch section of the village website at www.southwalshamvillage.org/otter-watch.
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