OTTERS are making a comeback in East Lancashire after a series of sightings this year.
Brockholes Nature Reserve, in Samlesbury, had its first sighting in its history last month, to join a raft of other recordings up and down the River Ribble.
The semi-aquatic mammal has been endangered since the 1950s in many areas of the UK due to the use of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, habitat loss, and water pollution.
The Wildlife Trust, Canal and River Trust and The Ribble Rivers Trust have been working over the last few years to help improve the otter’s natural habitats in East Lancashire.
The sighting at Brockholes coincides with an increase in otter numbers across the country.
The reserve, owned by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, opened in April 2011, and otters have been seen swimming in the lake.
The Ribble Rivers Trust has also reported an increase in sightings, as well as an increase in the number being hit by cars.
The group has been planting trees and erecting fences to help protect their natural environment.
It has also been cleaning the water, and trying to remove any harmful chemicals.
Alan Wright, from the Wildlife Trust said: “We have been waiting on tenter-hooks since we learned that there were otters further up the River Ribble.
“This is the first time in our history that otters have been seen here and it’s fantastic news.
“The number of otters has been increasing across the country over the last few years, and this is the first time that they have been recorded in this area of East Lancashire.
“It’s a massive boost for the reserve, and there is no reason to think that more are not on their way.
“Recent work by other groups, including the Canal and River Trust, has helped to clean their natural habitat and help them grow in numbers, and we are now starting to see the benefits.”
A spokesman for the Ribble Rivers Trust said: “We certainly have noticed an increase in otter sightings recently. We have been planting trees and fences along the river, which help to protect the banks and stop wildlife from accessing the river.
“We have also been trying to protect the water and make sure it’s as clean as possible.
“The number of otters being hit by cars on the road has also increased, which indicates that more are moving into the area.
“It’s really positive that more are being sighted.”
Some of the locations in the North West where people can go to try and catch a glimpse of an otter include Hockenhull Platts, in Waverton, and Aughton Woods near Lancaster.