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Saturday 16 December 2017

Otter survey bill will top €130,000

Gordon Deegan

A NATIONAL census on the country's otter population will cost more than €130,000.

Belfast-based Quercus Consultants -- which also scooped the contract for an infamous national frog survey -- will get €129,981 plus VAT for the work to develop and manage the otter survey.

The state has commissioned the work in response to a European Court of Justice judgment that it is failing to adequately protect the mammal.

Earlier this year, the Department of Environment signed a contract with a Cork-based consultancy firm for a two-year study of the natterjack toad population.

And now the study into otters - which includes details of their population and diet patterns - is under way.

Quercus, which is based at Queen's University, is expected to conclude the study in March.

The otter has an unfavourable conservation status in Ireland as a result of a decline in its population since the 1980s. It is protected by the EU Habitats Directive and any one found guilty of killing one faces fines of up to €63,487 or two years' imprisonment.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht revealed the price of the contract in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Irish Independent

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