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Down Councillor Cadogan Enright has protested to the Rivers Authority over the possible digging out of an otter holt, or den, from the Magheralaghan River downstream from Magheralaghan lake between Downpatrick and Spa.

Cllr Cadogan Enright said “This family of otters were a familiar sight to the residents around the lake and have not been seen since. It is not clear if they were killed during the incident or simply fled.”

Cllr Enright pointed out that this was only one of several incidents affecting local otters over the last few years in this area.

“The otters in nearby Ballyduggan Lake were being hunted by a dog-pack from Virginia in County Cavan until protests by local Green Party activists, and retired Green Party Councillor Bill Corry has removed otter traps from the Quoile designed to catch and drown the otters under water, and we are bringing this latter incident to the attention of the relevant authorities at the moment.” Continued Cllr Enright.

At an on-site meeting between Cllr Enright and the Rivers Authority representative for the Downpatrick and district area, the Rivers Agency lands officer has undertaken to investigate the matter and provided assurances that the rivers were to be surveyed on a regular 3 year cycle to identify Kingfisher holes and Otter holts and other important features before local rivers were cleared out.

Local businessman and resident Ciaran Russell described how the otters had been in residence for some time, and a local farmer identified the digger responsible as being a “Ministry Digger” to the rivers authority engineer investigating the incident.

Green Party Councillor Enright thanked the Rivers Authority for their prompt attention to this matter, and concluded that “The varied pressures on local wildlife are significant, and government departments must do what they can to play their role in arresting the decline of the environment in this area”.

Press Cuttings: Protest over loss of otter den near Spa