REC’s Ecology consultant team were commissioned to undertake an updated survey for otters and badgers on a large area of land requiring a repair of an overhead power line. A previous survey found low-level otter activity and an active otter holt, as well as a badger sett and signs of badger activity within the area. The updated survey was required to confirm the earlier survey findings before repair works could go ahead.
Otter surveys can be undertaken all year round however, the most optimal period is between May-September. They comprise a walk over of adjacent land and up to 250 metres both upstream and downstream from the development area. Ecologists look for spraints (faeces), footprints and paths, slides (where an otter slides into the water), feeding remains, holts, natal dens and resting places.
Badger surveys can also be conducted all year round and comprise of a walk over of the whole site and 30 metres outside the site boundary. Identification signs include faeces, paths, scratching posts, hair, snuffle holes, footprints and setts. If a sett is located an ecologist must establish whether it is well used, partially used or dis-used.
The otter survey proved difficult due to tall nettles growing along the banks and deeper than expected river conditions however no signs of otter activity were found. As a precautionary measure, all site staff were instructed to be watchful for any otter activity within the site and night-time working was avoided. Pollution control and prevention measures were also put in place to protect the nearby river which was also found to support salmon which are also an otter food source.
The previous badger sett was identified on a very steep bank which required and snuffle holes and footprints were identified in muddy areas indicating the species were still active within the area. The sett however was outside of the 30-metre boundary of the development and works were able to proceed under Precautionary Working Methods.