Cardiff University Otter Project

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Cardiff University Otter Project

The Otter Project runs a long term environmental surveillance scheme, using otters found dead to investigate contaminants, disease, and population biology across the UK.

We are a national scheme collecting otters found dead in England, Scotland and Wales for post-mortem examination.

The original focus of the project was contaminant analysis, but we now use the archive of specimens and data to conduct a wide range of research. We collaborate with other universities and organisations. Most otters we receive are killed in road traffic accidents. Our data has also been used to guide mitigation on roads, reducing the number of future casualties.

  1. Our history


    1. 1992 Project established

      The Otter Project is established with the aim of using otter tissues to monitor aquatic contamination. Initially otters from the south were sent to the Wildlife VIC in Cornwall, and otters from the remainder of England and Wales were sent to Cardiff.


    1. 2007 England and Wales

      Since 2007 we have taken otters from the whole of England and Wales.


    1. 2013 2000th otter

      We reached a milestone of examining a total of 2000 otters since the start of the project.

    2. 2014 Scotland

      We started examination of otters from Scotland.

Found an otter?

We rely on reports of otter carcasses by members of the public, organisations, the police and local authorities.

If you’ve found a dead otter, please contact the relevant organisation dependent on the location. You will be asked for the location of the otter and some other basic information.

03708 506 506 (Ask for your nearest conservation or biodiversity officer)
Environment Agency
Wales 0300 065 3000 (Ask for your nearest conservation or biodiversity officer) Natural Resources Wales
Scotland 01471 822 487 International Otter Survival Fund

Other wildlife mortalities

You can report all wildlife road mortalities on Project Splatter. Other schemes collecting dead wildlife for research and monitoring are available on WILDCOMS.


As otters are a European Protected Species, it is necessary to hold a licence to possess dead otter specimens. Licences from Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage cover those involved in collecting, temporarily storing or transporting otter specimens for Cardiff University Otter Project.

Contact us

For further information, contact the Otter Project:

Otter Project