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ANGLING: Proper balance vital for sport
10:00am Saturday 5th January 2013 in Sport
ONE of the most controversial subjects in the angling world at the moment is the problem with otters, which over the last five years I have spotted all over Oxfordshire, writes Gerald Stratford
I like all animals, but when the balance gets out of control, we have big problems.
The fox population is spiralling and with it mange, which if not treated, can bring about a lingering death for both foxes and domestic dogs, who can catch it from foxes.
Badgers are said to be spreading bovine TB to our cattle and the otter is decimating our specimen fish, especially the breeding stock in our rivers and lakes.
If something isn’t done soon, there will be big problems.
I am writing this as a fisherman, but I am also a conservationist and if there are no fish, it will affect a lot of things.
Fish-eating birds like kingfishers are already suffering, there will be an explosion of insects spreading diseases and our small amphibians will suffer because they will be subject to more predation.
There is evidence in some parts of the country of starving otters turning to birds for food.
I have evidence of carp over 30lbs, 20lb-plus pike and barbel of over 10lbs being killed by otters in west Oxfordshire.
I’ve also seen three cormorants attacking a 20lb carp, which was later found dead with scars all up its sides.
So collectively, many predators are attacking our sport – Signal crayfish, cormorants, mink and otters, not to mention poaching.
It’s about time we fishermen stood up and took action.
If a farmer sees his lambs taken by foxes, he is allowed to control them, but if a fishery owner has his stock decimated by otters, he is not allowed to take any action because they are protected. It’s madness.
I fish a lot in France and see some beautiful animals like eagles, deer, wild boar, red squirrel and snakes.
This is in a country which has a much longer hunting history than Britain and their hands are not tied by stupid laws which could kill the countryside.