Otters return to our rivers

ANOTHER very welcome piece of wildlife news is the return of the otter to the rivers of Calderdale.

I have a friend in Todmorden who has seen one, disturbed by a JCB digger in the middle of the day, and another who was ready with his camera and got a picture at the other end of Calderdale, near Brighouse. I have seen the picture and can confirm that it was certainly not a mink, although my only encounter with a wild otter was in western Ireland.

We saw it in and out of the water, saw it diving and coming out with a fish which it ate in view of the cottage we were watching from with our binoculars, though they were hardly needed.

I was watching a mink in the Calder the other day. It seemed to hide behind a black bin liner, that typically litter our river banks, then dived in and came out with a fish about six inches long. I think it used the shadow of the bin liner to get a better view into the water.

Otters are said to clear out the mink when they reappear. That would be a good thing, as mink seem to have been the cause of the disappearance of water voles and moorhens from our watersides.

Animal rights activists are blamed for the mink being with us, but this is not right. The wild black minks were introduced, like the grey squirrel, by misguided men a long time ago who thought they might be an interesting addition to our wildlife.

They probably do some good, like foxes, by keeping rats down, though on the whole, we would be better without them. I would not condone cruel means of control.

They may be the wrong animal in the wrong place, but objectively you have to admire something that can dive into a large river and come out with a fish in its jaws.