The otter is European protected species. Populations declined considerably in the mid-20th century but have since showed significant recovery and otters may now be found in urban as well as rural areas.
Surveys for otter can be undertaken at any time of year subject to suitable weather conditions, although signs are often easiest to observe in the spring before vegetation grows up, and several surveys may be required in order to assess the impact of larger scale developments.
Signs include droppings (known as spraints), spoor (footprints), feeding remains, slides and above-ground resting sites (called day-beds or couches). A surveyor would also look for entrances to suitable underground sites (‘holts’) although these are not always evident.