Homeowners left angry and perplexed after a spate of night-time raids saw thousands of pounds of expensive fish plundered from their garden ponds have been warned about an unlikely culprit.
Police in Corsham, Wiltshire, have said they are ‘certain’ a mob of hungry otters are to blame after seeking advice from the town’s neighborhood team.
They issued a ‘lock up your fish’ warning, advising residents to install either welded mesh or erect a wired fence to safely keep the mammals at bay.
Wiltshire Police said in a statement: ‘We appreciate this is not a police matter but the fish are worth a lot of money.’
A spokesperson added: ‘A wire fence similar to that used for cattle which consists of a single wire around the pond supported about 4ft from the ground.’
They said both solutions were harmless to the animals, but would deter them.
In nearby Pewsey, Leo Pocock woke up to find otters had sneaked into his garden close to the Kennet and Avon Canal during the night and filched four of his valuable koi carp.
‘I’ve been keeping fish for at least 25 years, and have never seen an otter until now,’ he said.
‘They took an 18-inch-long siroutsuri, type of black and white carp, worth hundreds of pounds.
‘I lost £1,500 worth of fish, but it isn’t about the money. I’ve had them since they were tiny, and I see them and feed them twice a day, like you would a cat.’
Anna Ford, of Action for the River Kennet, which seeks to improve the river valley’s natural environment, said people shouldn’t be surprised, and should be glad otters are returning, even if it comes at a cost.
‘Otters will make the most of fish in ponds, if the ponds are not sufficiently protected,’ she went on.
‘To an otter, fish in a pond are much easier pickings than hunting wild fish in a flowing river.
‘We are very lucky to have otters on the Kennet. They are a native apex predator – so at the top of the food chain – and part of the river ecosystem.’
Otters, a protected species, often raid between dusk and dawn, though they do feed during the day too.
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