Otters seen close to Wakefield beck

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OTTERS have been spotted basking in a beck close to the city centre.

Although the mammals have been seen on the River Calder for years, it is hoped the sighting is evidence that they are spreading to more of the city’s waterways. It is also hoped that they have now begun to breed.

John Sturdy was walking his dog close to a beck near Matalan on Ings Road on Tuesday when he spotted the furry faced animal.

Mr Sturdy, 72, of Thornes Moor, said: “I shouted my wife and we’re both convinced it was an otter. It swam to the other side and then disappeared.

“It wasn’t very big but it was definitely not a water rat or a vole. I’ve seen them before and I’ve been on the internet to look at pictures and we’re both absolutely convinced.”

In the 1970s otters were on the brink of extinction due to toxic chemicals and pesticides which polluted rivers and canals across the country.

But extensive work has been carried out since then to clean up the River Calder by the Environment Agency and other environmental groups.

A spokeswoman for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “In West Yorkshire there has been evidence of otters for at least nine years on the Calder through Wakefield. The population here remains stable although there is no confirmed evidence of breeding.

“Along the river, environmental company SITA helped fund large scale habitat work including the building of new scrapes and planting of scrub cover.

“Although in small numbers there is now evidence of otters along the whole of the River Calder.”