Class Licence – Otters: Live Capture & Transport

UK Wild Otter Trust secure first ever initiative ‘class licence’ from Natural England to capture and remove otters (Lutra lutra) trapped within fenced fisheries.
September 29, 2016

After two years of planning and negotiations, the UK Wild Otter Trust has secured the first ongoing initiative ‘class licence’ to humanely trap the European Otter in England under very specific circumstances (within well-fenced fisheries).

The licence will allow UKWOT operatives, trained and approved by Natural England, to humanely capture any otters inadvertently trapped within a fenced fishing complex and remove them to the outside of the fence. This provides a legal, humane way of dealing with the rare problem of predation caused by otters which are trapped inside well-fenced fisheries. Without a licence, any trapping is illegal.

As a European protected species (EPS) with full protection under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to ‘capture, kill, disturb or injure otters’, and to ‘obstruct’, ‘damage’ or ‘destroy’ ‘breeding or resting places’. Those found guilty can get up to 6 months in prison and an unlimited fine.


The licence issued by Natural England is a collaborative initiative supported financially by the Angling Trust and independent anglers. The RSPCA has also offered ongoing guidance and support. The licence allows UKWOT trained operatives to work anywhere in England – the licence does not cover Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

UKWOT have 6 trained operatives that are situated across England. Each operative passed the specified Natural England training course. UKWOT, with the support of Embryo, will be advising fisheries on licence conditions such as fence types and fence security.

It is important to note that this licence ONLY applies to FENCED FISHERIES. Fenced fisheries applying for the licence must also agree to meet the conditions set within the Natural England licence.

Any fenced fishery in England can apply for this licence by visiting the following link. UKWOT are happy to assist you through the application process if help is required. Dave Webb can be contacted through the telephone numbers and email address below:


Get in touch

Phone numbers 01598 760585  // Mobiles 07866 462820 or 07769 177730


For the original press release published on 29 September 2016, please click here.


Reactions to the ‘class licence’

“Achieving this has given fisheries and anglers alike the confidence that there is a legal, humane and sensible option to help reduce otter predation. This project is still in the very early stages of development and use but has been long overdue. Fisheries look to otter groups and other organisations for help and we are all very aware of the financial pressures that otter predation can cause. We hope, that this will go some way in boosting morale and of course offer that all important support and help.”
Dave Webb, Founder and Chair of UKWOT

“The new class licence is a common sense approach that will benefit both otters and fisheries – and embodies Natural England’s commitment to working with partners and safeguarding our wildlife for everyone.”
James Cross, Chief Executive of Natural England

“The UK Wild Otter Trust has taken a pragmatic approach to otter predation in fenced fisheries, and now offers a practical, non-lethal, legal solution to owners of fenced fisheries. This class licence also shows that protected species can be humanely managed in a non-lethal way at a local scale in England.”
Dr Daniel Allen, Media and Policy Advisor for UKWOT

“This licence to trap and remove otters from fenced stillwaters is the result of a joint initiative that has grown from our work together.” Mark Walsingham, Fenced Fishery Owner & UKWOT Class Licence Operative

“This is a welcome response to the representations we have been making to Natural England to deal with the potential problem of otters occasionally getting trapped inside the fences that have been installed on fisheries throughout the country, with support from the Angling Improvement Fund. Our expert Fishery Management Advisors will now be able to help fishery owners and angling clubs by legally trapping the animal and placing it outside the fence. The licences are another step forward in our wider strategy for managing the impact of predation on fish and fishing.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust

“In a world where so many issues become polarized, this is a landmark victory for common sense. For as long as anglers and conservationists can work together and remain proactive, the otter can be a welcome and integral part of our aquatic environment.”
BBC Countryfile Magazine

“The licence will speed up the process for capturing and relocating otters that manage to get in to fisheries that have been fenced to exclude them. Having a group of trained people who can operate under the licence will avoid the need for individual licence applications. The process ensures the protection of otters.”
Natural England

UK Wild Otter Trust

Otter Specialist Group

Otter Welfare Advisory Group
Senior board member

Otter Predation Advisory Team
Co Founder

How to dispatch a live-caught mink – Download

Otter Trapping

Class Licence CL36 – Download

Registration Form CL36 – Download

Report Form CL36 – Download

Uk Wild Otter Trust – Welfare Policy – Download

Uk Wild Otter Trust – Trapping Policy – Download