More On Otters, Mink and Ostriches

My article about the ten biggest threats to angling drew quite a response both here on this web site and on others, too, although you would be forgiven for thinking the entire article was about otters and the other nine categories were erroneous. Perhaps it’s because otters are currently flavour of the month, the threat on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Sadly you cannot force people to see reason if their head is not for turning, particularly the ones who happen to be most vocal on the various Internet forums. The thing is, if we’re being honest here, these folk will not really be affected by the impact of otters or any other threat as they never catch seem to catch a great deal as it is, preferring to spend much of their life dealing with the complexities of issues like, ‘What’s the best bank stick?’

But let’s look at otters again and draw a parallel with the nearest thing I can compare with the problem, the spread of American mink and the impact this had on the aquatic environment.

Contrary to what many think, mink didn’t become widespread simply because a few loony anti-fur activists went around liberating mink from farms in the 90s. The UK mink population was established in the 1960’s as a result of poor control safeguards on farms that led to escapees becoming established. They’ve been running wild and rampaging through the small mammal population for a good 50 years to the point where our native and once prolific vole population is now threatened with extinction.

Now those who claim that Mother Nature finds a balance, that predators do not eat themselves out of house and home and that otters will ultimately find a balance need to stop dreaming, recognise that the creatures in Walt Disney cartoons aren’t real, then wake up and smell the coffee. This is just one example from a whole catalogue of disasters where an introduced predator has been the cause of some of the most rapid and severe changes in native bird and mammal populations all over the world.

Probably the most notorious example is the introduction of brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) to the island of Guam in the Western Pacific Ocean. Within a few decades of the arrival of brown snakes, Guam lost all but three of its thirteen native bird species and several bat and reptile species (Fritts and Rodda 1998).

In Australia, the introduction of cats (Felis catus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and dingos (Canis lupus dingo) is linked to the extinction of several species of mammals, birds and tortoises (Dickman 1996).

If I could be bothered to search through Bill Bryson’s Short History Of Just About Everything I’d be able to highlight an example of a lighthouse keeper’s cat that single-handedly eradicated an entire species of birds from the planet.

Were this theory of balance true then surely after 50 years the numbers of mink in the UK would have fallen to acceptable levels and the vole population would be on the way back to recovery? Of course, it isn’t, and by the time we recognise that otters will have the same negative impact on the UK’s already dwindling wild fish population most of us who are currently voicing protest will have conveniently died. Unfortunately so will most of the fish in our rivers.

Bioligists certainly appreciate that without a long history of coexistence, native prey may not be able to recognise alien predators as dangerous (level 1 naïveté), or they may lack the appropriate anti-predatory responses. The relationship between an introduced predator and a native prey, however, may have several different outcomes (Ebenhard 1988; Dickman 1996). The one most often observed is the severe decimation or extinction of the prey species.

You see, fish don’t think. They react. They do what comes naturally to them. Thousands of years of evolution has taught them to behave in a particular way when threatened but this will not ecessarily provide protection if the native prey responds with tactics which fail to work against the different hunting modes of alien predators and before some clown jumps in and cries the otter is not an alien, please get real. The otter is as alien to many of the waterways it has been introduced to as a little green man from Mars.

During scientific studies removing predators has turned out to be a convenient method for revealing the effects of predation on prey populations (Sih et al. 1985; Korpimäki and Norrdahl 1998; Korpimäki et al. 2002; Korpimäki et al. 2005). Unlike predator exclusion for instance by nets or fences, in predator removal experiments prey populations are not influenced by any other factor than the presence or absence of the predator in question.

Guess what? When the predator is removed the prey population recovers.

Through accidental escapes or deliberate releases mink have become established in semi-aquatic ecosystems of Northern and Eastern Europe, including archipelagos and the British Isles (Bonesi and Palazon 2007). Almost everywhere it has been introduced, the mink has been suspected of having a notable negative impact on some of its prey species. One such case is the dramatic decline of water voles (Arvicola terrestris) in the U.K.

The most obvious effect of mink removal was the generally higher vole densities on mink-free islands compared to islands with mink present (III, Fig. 2, see also Banks et al. 2004), which might have been caused by the naïveté of voles against the alien predator and costly anti-predatory behaviours.

Trapping data from 2004-05 and 2007 suggested, that in two out of three summers densities of voles were significantly higher in the absence of than in the presence of mink. The establishment of colonising field voles in areas with alien mink may therefore fail, leading to the possible extinction of voles.

The biologists also discovered, for the first time, that an alien predator may induce a trophic cascade on small islands. Since alien mink has also been shown to reduce the diversity of breeding bird assemblages in the outer archipelago (Nordström and Korpimäki 2004), alien predation is not only devastating for native prey populations but can have detrimental effects on the diversity of three trophic levels (piscivorous birds, herbivores and plants) of the ecosystem.

Now repeat after me:

Otters are cuddly. Otters are cute. The fish they’re killing are old and deserve what they get. Doesn’t really matter. They’ll settle down and balance out in a year or two. Everything’s gonna be alright…

Everything’s gonna be alright…

Oh, and can someone tell me how and when protected species are removed from the endangered list? If there are 30,000 cormorants in the UK, why do they still require protection? If there are breeding populations of otters in every single county what criteria deems them to be in need of protection?

If you get a mouse in your house, how long do you ignore it? When the numbers multiply to plague proportions do you just think, never mind, I’ll live with the consequences, accept the damage they cause? Do you put up with slugs in your garden? Greenfly? Rats in the sewers? Rabbits eating crops?

Why do we control dangerous dogs? Why don’t we allow dogs to worry sheep and cattle because that’s natural to them? Why do we protect red squirrels and regard grey ones as pests?

And why do we allow sheep, pigs and cattle to be killed for food? Yet don’t eat horses and donkeys. Or dogs. Why do we allow cats to decimate the songbird population?

Why are we not encouraging the re-introduction of wolves to our forests, and bears, and wild boar?

And why are some people so stupid they cannot, or simply refuse to, recognise cause and effect?

31 thoughts on “More On Otters, Mink and Ostriches

  1. bob, why are you so sure the doomsday scenario of fish stocks will happen? the local rivers around you, have they been affected by the reintroduction of otters? who informs you that this is going to happen? do they have a crystal ball?
    Did notice on fm that there was some very good responses to your posts that disagreed with your point of view. you chose not to answer some of there logic…instead take it another step further with this piece.

    we all know that certain rivers have been affected by otters coming back, they will be..end of. but there is alot worst problems out there to be adressed before that.

    thought provocking again though bob

    anglers keep going over the same old points of view on this

    • You tell me this Jason, let’s take the Ouse as an example where there is an abundance of crayfish which eat fish eggs and fry. Surprise, surprise, there’s poor fry recruitment,

      There’s a lack of middle sized fish but no lack of cormorants. Coincidence pehaps?

      And of course we’ve all seen the images of big fish with their throats ripped out by otters.

      Does that not concern you?

      Fancy a day’s barbel or chub fishing on the Windrush? Thought not. The Evenlode? The Bristol Avon?

      Certain of the threats I outlined will not be erased overnight, but at least we can do things about them. However, we cannot tackle the two biggest direct threats to fish, cormorants and otters. No-one built nests for cormorants. No one bred them in captivity and no-one spread them around the country with no thought as to how they were expected to survive in harmony within a damaged ecosystem.

      Otter will not just go away now. They have no predator. They are imune on all counts. The biggest issue we face with otters is not that they are killing to eat, they kill for fun. In the space of 20 years they have colonised every single county in the country. Do you think they will stop breeding shortly for some reason?

      If we take that other common rodent, the house mouse and allow them to breed unchecked you can end up with something like 2,000 offspring from a single pair and their progeny in a single year. I am not saying for one moment that otters breed at a similar rate but without any means of control they will continue to breed, and breed, and breed.

      Otters are out of control in an environment that is already collapsing. What useful purpose do they serve that, say, a big sewer rat doesn’t?

      Take your head out of the sand and do a bit of research. Look at the otter population growth chart covering the past 20 years and then extrapolate this to where it might be in another 20.

      Otters are already scavaging in towns, picked up on CCTV and they’re marauding around in garden ponds for koi carp and goldfish. Do you think that’s happening because they fancy a nice change from chub and barbel or pike?

      Time to take your head out of the sand and consider where this little scenario is heading.

      • bob, l live on the cherwell…you dont need to tell me what affect they have…you didnt answer any of my questions.

        your are thinking about this problem in totally the wrong way…i dont deny they are affecting fish stocks. i live in the real world. trying to keep a club running that only as the river and canal as waters in these apocoliptic times is tuff. our match attendances are strong our club match weights have been going up….72lb at thrupp 4 years ago, our large 5-6lb chub are not so common but the 1-3lbers are coming through. barbel pretty much gone apart from the stockies…very few dace and roach, but those silly old river bream turn up when it fancies them. lets not forget the ever reliable perch…wont be long before a 4lber comes out of the cherwell.

        again we have put up with them down here with problems i think you know little about…you have it easy on the waters you choose to fish. we’re a bunch of nutters down here…come and have a go if you think your hard enough!

  2. The flaw in your argument, Bob, is that otters are an indigenous species, mink are not. Otters had already found a balance until we messed it up, mink had not. Mink are capable of following water voles into their burrows, otters are not. Mink don’t hang around when otters take up residence on a river, giving vole populations a chance to recover.

    For sure, fish stocks have crashed on some rivers. If we started to tackle endocrine disrupters, blanket weed, invasive alien species (plants and animals), abstraction and increased sedimentation, all of which limit the number of fish reaching maturity, we might go some way towards resolving the issue. If we moan on about an otter cull that is never going to happen, we’ll show the world we are a bunch of blood thirsty fools with little idea about how the natural world works.

    Who is introducing all these otters anyway? The Otter Trust introduced 117 between 1983 and 1999 from a captive breeding programme. Since then, the only releases have been rehabilitated injured animals and orphaned cubs (Vincent Wildlife Trust & RSPCA) – otters that would have been there anyway, if they or their mothers hadn’t been mown down by motor cars. How can any reasonable minded person oppose that?

    Otters are part of Britain’s natural heritage. Fish have thrived alongside them for tens of thousands of years. The only logical conclusion is that the current problems with our rivers go much deeper than predation.

    No further comment from me on this thread. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.

    • Not flawed at all Dave.

      Otters were introduced without consultation with stakeholders, provided with countless artificial holts funded by charitable donations, given total protection against any kind of predation/ control, into an environment that could no longer provide its natural food source.

      We are told that otter numbers fell due to the use of pesticides in the 1950’s that are no longer in use (more’s the pity!). Therefore, if your supposition that fish numbers will recover naturally is correct, why was there any need whatsoever to reintroduce otters at all?

      The effect otters are currently having on pressured fish populations was entirely predictable and to suggest that there have been only 117 introductions in total is as ridiculous as the claims by predator anglers that zander have spread around the UK naturally.

      Otters might have required a degree of protection initially and I would wholly support their encouragement on rivers that have healthy runs of migratory fish (ie: salmon, sea trout, shad and eels) but in the absence of such ‘crops’ it is entirely unreasonable to expect the rivers, drains, canals and stillwaters of the UK to support them based on dwindling supplies of native, resident fish.

      The situation is unsustainable and landowners, fisheries and businesses should be given the right to manage the number of predators, whatever guise they appear in, as they see fit and necessary.

      And I’ve still had no response to my question, when does a ‘protected’ species come off the protected list? Why is there no target set from the outset? Why is a bird population (cormorants) for example, that currently numbers in excess of 30,000 INLAND alone deemed to require protection?

      • Tell me Bob, who is introducing all these otters? Where are they getting hold of them? Do they grow on trees? You could trap an otter and release it elsewhere of course, but that’s re-distribution, not an introduction.

        Deal with predation first then deal with habitat and biology Andrew? What’s the point? If you get the habitat and biology right, the predation will look after its self, just like it did for tens of thousands of years, before we messed up.

        One other thing: if there are no fish in all these rivers, why are the otters still there?

        • These otters are still there on two counts, I would say; otters don’t only eat fish and they are also reaping the surrounding stillwaters, too.

          So let me get this right. How long exactly do you think it will take to rectify fish habitat etc to a point where every river and stream can support an otter population? Meanwhile the otter population continues to expand and create havoc unchecked. And how does the fish population recover without mature fish to spawn? Divine intervention?

          Of course you could remove those blinkers and simply accept that an otter isn’t some mystical creature who’s very presence means that all of humanity will suddenly love anglers, or even a creature the world would actually miss were it to become extinct. It’s nothing more than an oversized brown rat that viscerates fish wantonly and without remorse. It may be cute but it is the ultimate apex predator kills for killing’s sake, not just for food and not just fish, either.

          If you believe that redistribution, which normally means releasing hand-reared cubs into areas that don’t (at that time) have an existing otter population, does not count as an introduction then you really have lost the plot!

          Look, if I buy a dog it is my responsibility to give it a home and feed it. I am responsible for its welfare and for controlling it. Now if I bought a tiger, or maybe a leopard, but found the feeding bills a bit steep, would it be okay for me to let it roam free and do what it would do naturally to feed itself on the grounds nature would eventually find a balance?

          No, the police would shoot it, protected/ endangered or not.

          If folk want to introduce otters and supply adequate mature fish for them to slaughter with a promise to keep doing so until the fish population becomes self-sustaining and in harmony with the otter numbers then let’s talk. However, if you want to release and promote the spread of a natural born killer but take no responsibilty for its actions then those who suffer loss must be given the right to protect what they deem as their interests or be compensated.

          The responsibility for fencing should morally lie with those who support and have encouraged the release of otters. Indeed fishery owners should be allowed to protect their property in any way they choose while otter supporters should create safe havens for otters where they are fenced in and fed at their own expense.

          The impact of otters on fish and fishing will not diminish with time, it will be exacerbated to a point where it will affect all of us. That is a ridiculous situation to allow without thought or regulation and quite how any supposedly intelligent angler cannot see that defies logic.

    • I can 100% clarify that Otter, Cormorants & Mink do Co-exist on the same river, that Otter will take eggs and chicks too, as do Mink. Ive seen all 3 species in the same vacinity minutes apart.

  3. Quote…..””For sure, fish stocks have crashed on some rivers. If we started to tackle endocrine disrupters, blanket weed, invasive alien species (plants and animals), abstraction and increased sedimentation, all of which limit the number of fish reaching maturity, we might go some way towards resolving the issue. If we moan on about an otter cull that is never going to happen, we’ll show the world we are a bunch of blood thirsty fools with little idea about how the natural world works.”””……..

    Now Dave i tried very hard with my last post not to make you look silly and i really don’t want to…. But you have pushed my buttons……..Try for ONE SECOND….To Understand what you are writing.YOU recognise all of the above as we all do…..OUR RIVERS ARE SUFFERING AT BREAKING POINT…Yet knowing this the otter trust went ahead to reintroduce when clearly this was not a stable time to do so.Adding another predation issue to an already crumbling situation.As anglers we are saying please protect our fish that are left in the rivers…

    Barbel chub carp pike bigger species have been missed by the cormorants survived all thats been thrown at them up untill a point in time. Now there being picked off one by one because they are all thats left in the chain. British species of fish are part of our natural heritage ALSO and have thrived along side the otter for tens of thousands of years untill the balance was tipped…… Tipping…………


  4. “Yet knowing this the otter trust went ahead to reintroduce when clearly this was not a stable time to do so.Adding another predation issue to an already crumbling situation.As anglers we are saying please protect our fish that are left in the rivers…”

    I think that this is the daftest comment of the lot Andrew
    Between 1983 and 1999 who said the rivers were in crumbling situation?
    Who said that otters would eat all the fish?
    Certainly not any angler who was filling his barbel boots on places like the Upper Great Ouse or the and Wensum until they all died of old age less than 5 years ago!
    When will people get it into their thick heads, it’s too late, what’s done is done,we NOW have to get the rivers in good fettle, so that what is already existing is given every chance to recover and become self sustaining.
    We will never get a cull of the otter, sorry to say , look at all the fuss being made about culling badgers, known carriers of desease, you have no chance.
    Instead of belittling fellow anglers views, get out and do something, have a go at the water companies or pay your £25 to an organisation that will give you at the very least that chance!

  5. Hi Bob,

    I read your articles with mixed feelings, you make some very salient points about the threats presented by pollution, ‘flood defence’, apathy and water abstraction, the latter to my mind represents the greatest threat to freshwater ecology in the forthcoming decades.

    ClearIy you have strong views on the subject of Otters so I would however be grateful if you could answer the following questions:

    What evidence do you have that otters are actually decimating fish populations ? By evidence I mean quantifiable peer-reviewed data not anecdotal evidence.

    If Otters were found to be having a profoundly detrimental impact upon freshwater fish populations, how would you propose redressing this situation?

    Can you provide any examples of an apex predator destroying the food chain upon which its very existence depends ? One will do.

    Do you really think think that the ‘benefits’ of an angler driven otter ‘control’ program would outweigh the inevitable bad PR that the fishing industry would suffer ?

    Do you really believe that the increase in the otter population is the result of reintroductions and not the fact that otters have naturally re-colonised into the areas that they were once prolific ? Really Bob ?

    In your two articles on this subject you have writen the following: ‘What purpose do they serve’? ‘What benefits do they offer’…..’It’s nothing more than an oversized brown rat that viscerates fish wantonly and without remorse’….’It may be cute but it is the ultimate apex predator kills for killing’s sake’.

    Wanton and remorseless ? Ahem. Anthropomorphic fallacy has no place in this debate.

    Reading these statements one cannot help but come to the inevitable conclusion that you regard the waterways of the UK as being the sole preserve of angling and have little or no regard for the other inhabitants of the waterways. In all the time you have spent by the waterside, you clearly cannot see beyond this fish and that is a great shame Bob.


    Joe W

    • It’s always difficult to reason with anyone who regards photographs of carp, pike, tench and barbel carcasses, dragged up the bank with their throats ripped out, as nothing more than anecdotal evidence.

      Lee Swords has answered your next point. No point in pursuing that one any further.

      What evidence can you provide (quantifiable and peer-reviewed of course?) that culling otters to protect endangered fish will cause bad PR and cause the fishing industry to suffer? Has there been a revolt over culling deer? Rabbits? Other rodents?

      Otters have colonised many, many areas where they simply didn’t exist before, never mind were prolific. Exactly when was the otter prolific anywhere and if this is the case, how come culling and hunting didn’t wipe them out completely? And if the population was set to recover naturally why was it necessary to re-introduce (ahem!) ‘117’ then?

      Can you answer the question, what purpose does an otter serve? Can you explain why an otter kills specimen sized carp, pike and barbel when it has no intention of eating them? On what grounds is such killing not ‘wanton’ (dictionary definition: gratuitously cruel, merciless, unrestrainedly excessive, frolicsome, playful) and on what grounds is that anthropomorphic fallacy or incorrect?

      As for your ‘inevitable conclusion that you regard the waterways of the UK as being the sole preserve of angling’ you could not be more wrong. I have upset local anglers by refusing to support a campaign against canoe access on my local river, I am highly critical of the behaviour of certain anglers and angling practises. What I am is pro-environment and you simply cannot introduce apex predators and encourage their spread at the expense of all other species on no more scientific grounds than they look cute.

      Otters practically died out in the 1950’s. Since then we’ve lost 98% of the eel population. Where are the salmon and sea trout, the shad, the burbot indeed, that they fed on? The silver fish population has been ravaged by cormorants – 30,000 protected marauders (when is enough for them to be no longer regarded as endangered, by the way?).

      Otters ARE damaging fisheries, more importantly they are impacting on adult fish numbers and there simply are no longer enough younger fish getting through to pro-create and replace them on many watercourses. And all set against a backdrop of abstraction, pollution, habitat destruction, etc, that you agree exists.

      The clock is ticking and a humane environmentalist would see this clearly.

      I repeat, what purpose has the re-introduction of otters served to the UK’s waterways? What benefit has it brought? Do they benefit tourism? Industry? No, it’s bio-diversity gone mad! The only thing they exist for is so that 1% of the nature lovers in this country can tick the box that says they’ve actually seen one.

      Waterways without fish are worthless. Waterways without anglers have lost their soul and their gaurdian. After all, it is only anglers who pursue polluters. We are the coal miner’s canary. Who else knows who to call when problems arise? The emergency telephone number is on our rod license – does it appear on the bridwatcher’s license – no, they don’y have one, do they? It is only anglers who fund the legal procedure when a pollution occurs, never birdwatchers and certainly not friends of the otter. And moreover, it is only anglers who pay to sit by a waterway – naturalists certainly don’t contribute, do they?

      Trust that answers your questions Joe.

        • My stance has never been kill them all, merely that fisheries should have the right to react to and control predation in whatever form it materialises.

  6. @ Joe

    Can you provide any examples of an apex predator destroying the food chain upon which its very existence depends ? One will do.

    I can

    Try looking at the introduction of the Nile Perch into the Rift Lakes system in particular Lake Victoria, it began one of the greatest extinctions of fish species ever known. Highly documented, Google it.

    The numbers of Nile perch caught in LV are now in free fall.

    You may also want to keep an eye on the situation developing within the Ebro river system in Spain…it is in parts bordering on a monoculture having lost the majority of its biodiversity to the Wells Catfish.

    Also look at the introduction of trout into the streams of New Zealand…fish extinctions occurred soon afterwards( Rainbow shiner?…a fish like our minnow I believe) and only the predators catholic palate allowed it to proliferate.

    Apex predators always alter the balance within nature as nothing is without effect, however it isn’t always the apex predator itself that struggles as they can often rely on other food sources once they have decimated or destroyed other species.

    Otters and such likes will have an adverse effect on their surroundings…over what period of time and whether or not the effect will be permanent is something that has yet to be seen.

  7. Lee Swords, sorry to shoot you down in flames but you’re talking about non-natives again, introductions of animals not resident in those areas. To compare that to otter re-introductions is naive in the least and incredibly short of the mark if trying to make a salient point. So, can you provide evidence of a native apex predator destroying the food chain upon which its very existence depends ? One will do.

    Bob, you ask why the cormorant is still protected with 30,000 pairs of birds in the country. Because it is a native bird and all native birds are protected in the UK…Can you name a native bird that doesn’t receive the benefit of the same protection?

    Admin, when did deer and rabbits become rodents? You make it quite obvious that your knowledge of wildlife, whether native or not is pretty minimal but really, basic errors like these really show the flaws in your argument.

    “What I am is pro-environment and you simply cannot introduce apex predators and encourage their spread at the expense of all other species on no more scientific grounds than they look cute.”

    The above is probably the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard from you so far. What exactly does pro-environment mean? Your statements on our riverine ecology have, so far, been inaccurate, uninformed and rather silly. This constant unintelligent ranting will serve no other purpose than to drive a wedge between anglers and non-anglers. For the sake of our pastime stop being so sensationalist and emotional about a subject that you have precious little knowledge about. You’re an embarassment to angling and pathetic attitudes such as yours will cause untold damage to the pastime

  8. And when you’re losing, just resort to insults…

    Look here ‘Mr Worms’, when did carbo sinensis become a native British Bird and why was it afforded protection here?

    The otter is an alien to many of the areas it is now found.

    At what point will fish be afforded protection?

    At what point should a fishery owner adopt the farmer’s defence?

    But do me a favour, respond with your full name instead of hiding behind an alias, eh?

    And when you do, tell us who should recompense the fisheries that have suffered enormous financial harm.

    Tell us what’s wonderful about carp, chub, pike, barbel and tench having their throats ripped out and left to rot.

    Tell us why there were no cormorants working the Trent in the 1950’s and 60’s but there are flocks of them today.

    Tell us why the giant clubs and associations who built their fantastic cheap portfolios on natural fisheries have disappeared.

    Be honest for once in your life and say fish don’t matter…

  9. No insults there Admin!

    It’s native because it has never been introduced by Man, it’s called natural colonisation, something that birds are quite good at due to their ability to fly. Hardly rocket science to work that one out is it?

    Otters “alien” to what? Sorry, the otter is either alien or native. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is native to the UK, no ifs or buts. Why do you think it alien?

    Which fish? a number already are, I’m surprised you didn’t know that…should have been something that you researched before starting this blog and associated Facebook page! As for why are most not well, easy really. Their natural habitats are in fine fettle which is why there are so many fish…and otters and other predators of course.

    Farmer’s defence of what? If a farmer kills a protected species then he is subject to the same laws and penalties following conviction. There’s no “one rule for one…” going on here. Yet another example of your poor research into the subject. Whilst on the subject, Fishery owners have grants available for fencing, why do most not bother, why have repeat fish losses through fishery owner negligence spawned a wave of calls for otter culls? Not the logical approach of an intelligent mindset is it?

    Nick Staples, I’d have thought you could have worked that out…I used Worms as it is a name I use on a number of internet angling fora that have now been linked to your site for clarification. What’s your name Admin?

    Recompense the fisheries? Why? most don’t fence their stock as farmers do. Many are sited on flood plains, posing risks to natural waterbodies. Diseases and parasites are rife and are spreading to native fish and natural waterways. Fishery owners have admitted purchasing carp from suppliers who can’t guarantee the source. Fishery owners and even a ‘top’ angling journalist have admitted to knowledge of the illegal killing of otters (it’s all there in the media). So why should they receive special treatment when they bend and break laws for their own financial gain?

    I don’t know. What is wonderful about fish having their “throats” ripped out and being left to rot? I don’t recall saying it was.

    Lots of answers to your cormorant question but, how about…In the 60’s the Trent was a silt laden river that also had thousands of anglers adding to turbidity with tons of groundbait every year. Why would a bird that feeds largely by sight target a river with poor visibility? Now the river is cleaner (as regards suspended solids) and constant fish stocking of perfectly sized cormorant food is put in on a regular basis…bit of a no-brainer really I’m surprised you asked!

    That’s easy! The advent of the ‘fish a chuck’ muddy carp ponds has seen to that. Why learn the art of angling and watercraft at a tender age when a few quid sees anybody with a rod able to catch large fish?….it’s why these ponds are called commercials…easy to pay, easy to catch, easy to access, easy to make a fast buck. It’s a sad reflection of our world today unfortunately, everybody wants the biggest and ‘best’ now and bugger the consequences. Supermarket style fishing! Some of us still risk blanking on natural rivers, using watercraft and revelling at the sight of nature in action…but it would seem a declining number…regrettably.

    Why would I say that? Fish do matter…at least native ones…without fish I wouldn’t enjoy angling, without fish many other species such as otters would decline and finally go extinct.

    Be honest with yourself. Your attitude to ecology of UK waters is based on selfish and artificial desires not a desire to see a natural balance.

  10. Native species introduced into an environment with catastrophic results to the “indigenous” species balance.

    How about Barbel into the Severn?

    • And just for the record your original question never mentioned native/non-native

      “Can you provide any examples of an apex predator destroying the food chain upon which its very existence depends ? One will do.”

      I did…I win.

      you got shot down in flames…not me :O)

      • A pity you seem unable to read. My first question mentioned a native apex predator…Joe W’s post didn’t.

        This is precisely the problem. You don’t read the posts, the scientific evidence or anything else of any consequence. You make assumptions without looking at the evidence!

        You didn’t win. Nobody is a winner, but continuing your ridiculous campaign will see angling as the loser.

        No burn marks on me…not even a hint of soot…how do you feel now?

    • Not quite sure of the point you’re trying to make here but Bob Roberts himself refers to them as aliens (November blog)…and then charges people £499 a week as a guide to catch them on one of the best angling rivers in the UK..the Wye, also renowned for having one of the densest otter populations in the UK…

      Now, is it a huge pile of hypocrisy I smell here or is it just greed? or maybe a distinct lack of joined up thinking amongst the Bob and his cronies? Either way you’re getting pretty good at destroying your own claims…through incompetence, stupidity and a general lack of commonsense!

      Whilst I’m on the subject, The Bob keeps harping on about getting rid of non-native invasive alien species…no problem there, kill ’em all I say…what about Bob’s passion for zander angling? Does he throw them back or does he remove them and humanely kill them?

      I believe I smell a burning tailfin again….

    • Not quite sure about the point that you’re trying to make here Lee but….

      We all know from his blog and the Facebook page that Bob Roberts is acutely interested in wiping out species that ‘shouldn’t’ be there. I seem to recall that Bob in his November blog mentioned alien species such as barbel….

      Is it me or is it the stench of hypocrisy that assails my nostrils? Can it be the same Bob Roberts that prostitutes his services as a guide, fishing for barbel on the Wye…where they are alien species (as regards river catchment) but charges anglers £499 a week to catch them?

      What about Bob’s passion for zander fishing? does he kill all of the non-native, invasive alien zander that he raves about catching in his blogs…or does he return then gently to the water with a dab of savlon to their lips?

      p.s. Remember the furore back in the 70’s when zander were going to eat all of the fish in the UK… just as otters are now…?

  11. I am not trying to make a point my point is made already, well documented and utterly proven.

    My point is simple. Whenever man get involved in the workings of nature a f*ck up is inevitable, we believe we can add, remove transplant and transfer species at will because we are awesome.

    We as a species are many things but awesome is not one of them.

    I have no beef with otters, I saw my first this year and was chuffed to bits but the stretch of river involved is easily capable of supporting a few, it isn’t one of the ‘sickly’ rivers that cannot maintain viable populations of fish any more because of reasons in legion.

    What I would support would be the natural spread of otters at a natural pace whilst at the same time effort was made to ensure the pyramid of food required to support the ‘apex’ was in place.

    Take a look at the state of our rivers…they are 70% recycled shit, piss and stone cold bathwater…they are not fit for purpose.

    The food chain is not stable, entire environments are at risk and they are at risk through vanity and short-sighted planning…Areas cannot be ‘rewilded’ at will without planning and thought, what of the plans to reintroduce wolves and beaver?How long before a wild boar kills a child? a wolf kills a domestic pet or a beaver gnaws its way through a valuable collection of bonsai trees?

    I love the otter…but balance is needed and if that means culling, then so be it. Red deer are culled to maintain balance… I see no difference.

  12. Methinks this Worm fellow has a bit of a bee in his bonnet. Four posts in a row? Calling me a hypocrite, a prostitute? Suggest I’m ‘harping on about ‘getting rid’, ‘wiping out species that shouldn’t be there’, etc.

    Well, if he can show where I have called for getting rid or wiping out he will be a very clever man(?). I have clearly called for control, not eradication.

    But please, don’t bother even trying. Late night ranting and raving, insulting and stamping your feet simply removes any chance that I or anyone else will take you seriously – or even listen to you.

    Worms’ accusation that £499 for near-on a week at a top class hotel on full board and with fishing tickets included represents greed is simply laughable and typical of ‘his’ ignorance. If ‘he’ bothered to check his facts (something he likes to criticise others for apparently not doing) he’d not only discover that the monies involved are paid direct to the hotel but that the day rate for full board including a-la-carte dining, plus 4 days fishing on Wye and Usk waters equates to almost exactly £499. Figure that one out.

    These holidays, for that is what they are, have sold out completely again, despite doubling the number of places available. Around 60% of those who are coming this year are previous guests and a number are returning for their 3rd or 4th visit. There is a waiting list should anyone drop out and another list already of people who have expressed an interest in coming along the following year.

    No-one gets mugged-off on these trips, let me assure you of that! The hotel is happy, the W&UF is happy, the guests are happy. Mr Worms isn’t. It makes him very angry and abusive. Hmmm…

    Any Mr Worms, you’ve had your say, but by sinking to the gutter and making unsubstantiated insulting comments you have worn out your welcome. You’ve made your points, now please move along. No more responses from you, please.

  13. Hello guys, my first post so i won’t try to be controvercial. My very good freind Nick Staples (scientist) has emailed me and spoke with regards to the otter debate, so if you have no objection and to enjoy openess and transparency within our sport, i have reprinted his last comments to you below. Personally i think there are some anglers who are paranoid and use the decade old otter release off aproximatly 120 as the be all and end all disaster to befall angling, following years of man made decimation of this animal, it ain’t.

    Quote Nick Stapels:

    Bob, although your blog stops a little short of demanding that otters are done to death, you support others that do (John Wilson and his Predation Action Group). You also have a regular contributor (Lee Swords) to your blog that pairs up with you in attacking those that disagree with your posts who, only a couple of posts ago gave his support to otter culling. When many others were calling for otters to be shot etc. on your Facebook page you made no effort to censor this or criticise that attitude. So, it seems to most that by accepting these calls for culls you are supporting them….Either way, your comments that otters are alien is plainly ridiculous and the whole taste of your site is one of hypocrisy and a hatred for any fish predator other than fish eating fish….non-native predators such as zander you actually support!

    As an angler I am disgusted with your attitude to native wildlife and I hope that your narrow minded posts don’t cause damage to our angling pastime.

  14. Funny, isn’t it, how Mark Barratt interprets my view on zander in completely the opposite way and hauls me over the coals for having enjoyed catching them.

    With regard to my alleged support of others, the views they may express are theirs and theirs alone. It would be absolute folly to suggest I agree entirely with everyone’s opinions because a post left on here is not removed. Indeed, I have left the post on view that calls me a prostitute and a hypocrite. Does that mean I don’t harbour a different view on this?

    With regard to this claim that I am ‘stopping a little short of demanding otters are done to death’ then let us be absolutely honest, it is you who is shamelessly attempting to twist my words. Have I demanded this? Patently no. I have merely suggested those who own fisheries should have the right to protect them from predators when they face an unwanted threat.

    As for whether I am responsible for what folk write on Facebook…? Dear me sir, what planet do you live on!

    But as you are now the self elected spokesman for the scientific community, please ask one of them to explain what beneficial gains otters bring to the waterside. Please ask them how, in the current climate, otters are going to improve fish survival and recovery rates and finally, tell me why fishery owners should be responsible for erecting and funding fences against a threat that was deliberately introduced and actively spread by otter supporters into areas where that threat did not exist previously nor did it exist when they created and developed their fishery businesses.

    Indeed, if these scientists are so clever, caring and thoughful in their actions, why did they not carry out feasibility studies into the effects of introductions, into whether the fish population was comparable with when the otter went into decline and whether the migratory species on which they supplemented their diet still existed? I’m no scientist but I have kept the odd pet rabbit and it quickly became apparent to me that if I didn’t feed it regularly it would eat all the flowers in my garden.

    Did these scientists you represent not stop to think for one second that the food supply that otters rely upon had been decimated, and that introducing them into areas where there were no longer eels or silver fish meant they would target prime carp, chub, pike, barbel and tench? At least a cormorant eats what it catches.

    Tell me, where is the logic in suggesting that it is okay for a 30lb carp to be killed in a brutal and vicious manner, be dragged up the bank and just have its throat ripped out, then abandoned – not eaten – but it’s not okay to humanely trap and dispatch a predator.

    Doesn’t your mob deal in logic?

    If you can’t answer these simple questions but would rather trade insults instead, please go away and bother someone else. I do believe the Jeremy Kyle show is starting in ten minutes…

  15. Having digested all of the above or thinking that I have.As a concerned fisher person ,to my mind Worm seems to make some valid well thought out points.The instant reaction of us when we see catch result going down, is to blame anything but ourselves.

    Yes Otters play a part in this but also does habitat,angling pressure and of course ourselves.Bob you remind me of the pigeon fanciers when the Peregrine was encouraged back to our skies.

    Will the river Wye go the same way as the Teme in a few years? If it does will it be angling pressure ? habitat ? Otters ? or will the Wye and Usk foundation waters always remain good. And the rest of the Wye not so?.

    The pigeon fanciers still call for a cull as do many shooting people WHY because it spoils THEIR sport.

    Tight Lines the new video looks good though Bob, will get a copy when you finish it.

  16. See, I told you Jeremy Kyle was on in ten minutes…

    Anyway, this article was about TEN threats to angling as I see them.

    Seems it’s only otters that anyone else regards as worth commenting on, and there’s the rub. What you see in the comments I’ve allowed to stand are fairly polite when compared with the abusive ones I’ve had to block and who were they all fro? You’ve guessed, otter lovers.

    Lord love ’em, and I’m sure they mean well but I don’t stand for the level of abuse some of these posts have contained and of course that person’s IP address is submitted to the spam filter along with those folk in the dim distant past who no longer have posting rights on here.

    Time to draw a line under the comments now, methinks. Anyone not happy can always use the ‘Contact Me’ button at the top of the page.