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Otters and the law

Otters can be found on the main rivers and tributaries; all canals; at Pant-y-Sais Fen and in coastal salt marsh areas in Neath Port Talbot.

The Otter is a European protected species and is afforded protection under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.


  • To kill, injure or handle an otter
  • Disturb an otter in its place of shelter (holt) or resting
  • Obstruct, damage or destroy the places where otters live
  • Possess, control, transport, sell, exchange or offer for sale/exchange any live or dead otter or any part of an otter
  • Keep otters in captivity

If any activities are undertaken that result in any of above an offence would be committed under the law. 


If prosecuted a conviction can be 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine.

Exceptions and derogations:

There are a number of exceptions where such activities can be undertaken without an offence being committed:

  • You can tend to an injured otter in order to release it when it recovers or you can kill an otter that is so seriously injured it has no reasonable chance of recovery.
  • If any actions or works, such as development near to a watercourse or flood-alleviation work, are likely to impact on otters then a (derogation) licence may be able to be obtained from the Welsh Government. This will allow works to be undertaken dependent upon the implementation of certain conditions and methods of working. Mitigation may be required to be provided, especially in the case of developments, where for example holts are removed. New holts are normally required to be provided if any are lost.

Further Information: