Otters Come Back From Brink of Extinction
Otters Come Back From Brink of Extinction. Lilian Carswell/USFWS

The sighting of two otters in Kent has been heralded as signalling the return of the otter to every British county.

During a 2010 survey of rivers across England carried out by the Environment Agency (EA), Kent was discovered to be the only otter free county in the UK.

The survey examined 3,327 UK river sites between July 2000 and March 2010. It found evidence that the country's native otter population had grown at least tenfold in the last 30 years.

EA's research also indicated that the South East continued to be the least otter friendly region in the UK. Numerous conservationists have since estimated that it could be 10 years before Kent housed any permanent otter residents.

Following the study, reports suggest that at least two otters have been spotted in the county, with the EA confirming sightings in holts in the Medway and Eden rivers.

The news follows previous reports that the UK's otter population had drastically fallen as a result of decreased fish numbers. The reports suggested that the increased levels of toxic pesticides in UK rivers had culled the number of fish within them, thus leading to a drop in the native otters population. As a result, during the 1970's the otter population of England was all but extinct.

The re-emergence of wild otters in the British countryside has since been accredited to improved water quality and a series of legal reforms designed to protect the otter.

"The recovery of otters from near-extinction shows how far we've come in controlling pollution and improving water quality," commented EA national conservation manager, Alastair Driver. "Rivers in England are the healthiest for over 20 years and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning to many rivers for the first time since the Industrial Revolution."