The Eurasian otter is slowly returning to Switzerland
The Eurasian otter became extinct in Switzerland at the end of the 20th century. For some years now, the species has been spreading again in Central Europe and Switzerland. Knowledge about the occurrence and dispersal process as well as population monitoring are important for effective species conservation measures. In the canton of Bern, a small population has been living between Thun and Bern since 2014. In recent years, offspring have repeatedly been detected. Thus, migrations and recolonisation of areas are to be expected. Therefore, Pro Lutra, WWF Bern and WWF Solothurn initiated the “Otter Spotter” project in 2017: volunteers, so-called “Otter Spotters”, examine medium-sized and smaller watercourses in both cantons for otter occurrences in a two-year rhythm. The first mapping took place in the winter of 2017/18, the second in the winter of 2019/20 and the third in the winter of 2021/22. Based on the statistical evaluations that were possible with the third mapping, a decrease in the population is suspected.
- Knowledge about the current occurrence of Eurasian otters between Thun and Olten
- Recommendations for promotional measures for the Confederation and the Canton
- Raising awareness among the population through trained otter spotters
With the present project, the mapping can be carried out for the fourth time and, where possible, supplemented with a documentation of the development of the population or the occurrence of the Eurasian otter. The detailed documentation also provides important information on potential conflicts, e.g. at road crossings and fish farms. In addition to the mapping of Eurasian otter tracks as part of the third mapping exercise, 1091 bridges in the cantons of Bern and Solothurn were also assessed for their otter-friendliness. In this way, the project in the form of the otter spotters contributes significantly to a safe and permeable habitat for the Eurasian otter and other animal species. The otter spotter network also raises awareness about the spread of the species and carries out important public relations work with regard to the successful return of this predator in Switzerland.
- Eurasian otter
What we use your nature conservation francs (Naturschutzfranken) for
- Mapping of Eurasian otter occurrences in the cantons of Bern and Solothurn
- Evaluation of the collected data
- Workshops for the education and training of further Otterspotters
- Education, information and interaction with the population