AN ILLEGAL trap caused the death of an otter found by a Spalding Water Taxi pilot in the River Welland.
The mammal, which is a protected species, was discovered after the pilot spotted a net floating in the water and lifted it on Thursday afternoon.
The Environment Agency has confirmed that the net which trapped the otter was an illegal one which can be bought on the internet but needs authorisation before it can be used. Permission will only be granted if the net is fitted with an otter guard.
Agency spokesman Rita Penman said: “The net appears to be a small fish trap, which is about four feet long, the type of thing to be used for catching crayfish.
“This one clearly didn’t have an otter guard so is an illegal net.
“It looks as though the otter had probably been dead a couple of days and it is likely it would have got tangled up in the net and drowned as it would have unable to surface to breathe.”
Mrs Penman said similar nets have been responsible for killing at least five other otters in Lincolnshire in the past year.
Simon Clarke, of Spalding Water Taxi, said the pilot had been very upset at the discovery of the dead otter on Thursday at the junction of the Welland and the Coronation Channel.