Shropshire Star

Otter cheek! Watch night-time fish thief caught in the act

A man has unveiled the identity of a mystery thief stealing valuable Japanese Koi fish from residents' ponds in south Shropshire.

The otter trying to get to Andy Rowbottom's koi carp. Video still: Andy Rowbottom

CCTV footage from Andy Rowbottom has revealed a brazen-faced otter trying to get in to his fish pond at his home in Church Stretton.

It comes after Andy noticed a Koi had gone missing from his pond one morning, so decided to do some detective work to catch the culprit.

Andy put a polycarbonate sheet across the pond and placed planks of wood over the top to stop the animal trying to get in.

He then carefully placed a CCTV camera over the top, which unveiled the shocking night-time antics of an otter.

WATCH here:

Andy said: "I came downstairs the one morning and there was a hole in the net over the pond and I thought 'that's a bit weird'.

"I then realised there was one fish missing and could see the claw marks down the side of the pond, so that evening when I came back from work, I put cameras on and got some footage.

"I didn't think we would have an otter in Church Stretton – there are no rivers around here and there's only the wetlands around Stretton for an otter, unless he's living in the reservoir at Cardingmill Valley.

"He's either gone over the top of the valley or he's come through the middle of Stretton, either way he's certainly covered some mileage.

How Andy has had to protect his fish. Video still: Andy Rowbottom

"Japanese Koi fish are quite expensive and its not something I want to be losing every day, so now I have built a greenhouse over the pond to keep the fish warm and keep him out."

Koi fish can be bought for around £15 to £150 depending on size and colour pattern and can sell for many thousands of pounds.

Andy went on to say that the more they speak to residents in the area, the more they seem to find out about the otter, as other have reported losing fish from their ponds too.

He said stories had previously emerged of otters crossing the A49 and running down the Broadway, straight down off the Long Mynd.

The otter in Andy Robottom's garden. Video still: Andy Rowbottom

According to the Shropshire Wildlife Trust website, otters are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and have been listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

They are a rare but widespread species, now found throughout the country but absent from parts of central and southern England, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.

Otters previously suffered years of persecution from hunters with hounds and with the pollution of watercourses, otters almost disappeared from Shropshire entirely.

But in recent years they have started to re-colonise, having spread eastwards from Wales.