Hunting issues Otters of the world

They are going to start Killing otters in Austria

Please write to Dr Pernkopf at

Here is a copy of my letter

Landesrat Dr. Stephan Pernkopf

Landhausplatz 13109 St. Pölten

Austria                                                                                                        3 March 2017

Dear Dr Pernkopf

Otter Cull in Lower Austria

 It is with great sadness that we have learnt that the proposed otter cull in Lower Austria is to go ahead.  I understand that this in response to appeals from fishermen stating that there are too many otters.  I believe the numbers given for that part of Austria is 800 and that originally 80 were to be killed but this has been reduced to 40.

I would like to ask the following questions:

  1. On what data is the figure of 800 otters based?

We have seen no survey results and so would like to know where this is documented.  If the numbers are based on spraint (droppings) surveys there is documented evidence that spraint numbers and number of active sprainting sites do not give an indication of the actual number of otters.  (  Unless detailed DNA work has been done it is impossible to quote population figures – if such work has been done I would very much like to see the report.

  1. What evidence is there that killing 40 will make any difference to the problem?

New otters will just move in to vacant territories and the problem will continue. People in the fisheries need to keep otters out and there has been a considerable amount of work done on how this can be achieved.

  1. What authority does Austria have for ignoring the legislation protecting otters through the European Union Fauna and Flora Habitat Directive?
  1. How will Austria avoid being taken to the European Court of Justice for failing to protect this protected species?

Other countries have had infringement proceedings brought against them before the Court of Justice.  In most cases this was for failing to protect a species more by neglect, but in this situation you are deliberately allowing the killing the otters.

  1. Who and how?

If this does go ahead, then who will be responsible for the killing?  How will they do it?  And how will they determine which animals are to be killed and avoid killing pregnant females and those with young cubs?

The repercussions of this action are widespread.  It affect otter populations in neighbouring areas both within Austria and across borders into countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia and probably also into Hungary.  But it will also have far wider effects on countries, where fishermen will take this as a precedent for action such as this to be taken in other areas.

Otters are still recovering all over Europe from the disastrous drop in the mid 20th century.  There is a lot of mis-information in the media that otter numbers are now high, but there is no evidence to show that, although otters are being seen in more areas, there may not actually be significantly more animals.  It is well known that prey availability has been reduced and suitable habitat has been lost.  How do we know that animals do not now have to travel further to gain sufficient food?

I look forward to receiving your comments as a matter or urgency.

Yours sincerely

Dr Paul Yoxon CBiol MRSB

Hunting issues Otters of the world

Stop the Otter Fur Trade in America and Canada


This is the time of the year when I return to the subject of the legal fur trade in America.  I have quoted the figure of 39,438 otters inhumanely killed for fur every year, and over the years I have been critisised for this figure – this figure was obtained directly from the websites of the official Departments of Fish and Wildlife for each individual state.  In a recent 2016 Wildlife Crime report published by UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC), they state and I quote:

“Demand appears to be growing in many key sectors. For example, according to COMTRADE data, global exports of raw fur skins topped US$7 billion in 2013 (Fig. 1). CITES continues to record large exports of wild-sourced skins of protected species. In 2013, the CITES Trade Database documented wild-sourced exports of close to 70,000 bobcat skins,2 50,000 river otter skins,3 32,000 brown fur seal skins,4 and almost 27,000 peccary skins,5 as well as many finished garments made of these.” Note 3 Lontra canadensis

So my figures appear to be an UNDERESTIMATE!  However, even these newest figures will not take into account animals which have not been registered or those which are caught incidentally when trapping for beavers and not reported.

American and Canadian furs are traded at big auction houses in America and Canada and the strongest markets are in China and South Korea. Manufacturing centres exist in central and NE China and South Korea. Buyers come from Beijing, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Italy, Greece, New York, Turkey, Toronto and the UK

One argument given to support trapping is that it helps conservation. In the Arizona Hunting Regulations it says: “the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is the world’s most successful … Hunting and angling are the cornerstones of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation … ”

So is otter trapping sustainable? If we look at the figures, 10 states in USA and 2 states in Canada have no limit on the numbers trapped.  In some of the states there simply is no up-to-date information on population status.  If you look at Alaska the figures are from 1994 and we were told by Nevada that research is well past its due date.  To argue for sustainable harvesting you need population data before and after harvesting.  When I contacted the Fish and Wildlife Services for this data this is what they sent me.


This does not give population figures but just where the populations originated – and so it is totally irrelevant.

Clearly if we do not have reliable information on how many otters there are or how many are being killed then we cannot say it is sustainable.


Hunting issues

Do conservation and trophy hunting really go together?

Don’t know how many of you have seen this article in National Geographic

Do conservation and trophy hunting really go together?

We have all heard about the shooting of Cecil the Lion and many will also have heard about the auction of a black rhino by the Dallas Safari Club in 2013.  In this new article we are told that they are now auctioning off 600 animals to be hunted in 32 countries in Africa, Europe, Oceana, and the Americas.  They expect 20,000 bidders and this is only a few days after a similar auction in Texas which had 51,000 bidders.  This will raise millions of dollars which the Club claim will “make a vital contribution to conservation efforts”!

What hypocrisy.  How can the killing of endangered species be called “conservation”?   Let’s be clear about what it actually is.  These people clearly enjoy killing and so try to justify it by saying that it helps conservation.

But what is worse is that the Dallas Safari Club are actually members of IUCN – that is the International Union for the CONSERVATION OF NATURE?  On their web page IUCN say their “vision is a just world that values and conserves nature.  Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”  When they used the word “value” I didn’t realise they meant in terms of how much money it could raise for hunters.

At IOSF we are working to stop the illegal trade in wildlife, especially otters.  Most of this trade is driven by poverty, particularly in Asia where people are trying to earn a little extra for their family.  These American hunters are not driven by poverty – they are driven by greed and the love of killing.  And they have no place in any organisation with a conservation mission.

And while we are trying to stop the illegal trade in furs, we find that IUCN also has members who are part of the fur trade – the Fur Institute of Canada and the International Fur Trade Federation.  Of course they will claim that they are trading in legal furs which are from “sustainable” sources, but again we would question this. Over 40,000 otters are killed each year in North America and in 21 states in USA otters were reintroduced after becoming extinct – now in 14 of these states it is legal to kill them again.  These figures do not take into account those animals which are caught by “accident” when trapping for other species – this must be high as in December 2015 one person caught 2 otters within 10 days in Indiana when trapping for beaver. Is this sustainable?  How can we know if we don’t even have the figures for actual population numbers.

IOSF is not a member of IUCN for the very reason that we cannot be part of an organisation which has members such as the Dallas Safari Club and the fur organisations.  We also believe that the IUCN Otter Specialist Group and other members of IUCN should be standing up and asking questions about these issues. We believe in true conservation without killing for profit.