A dead otter has been found in an illegal crayfish trap in the River Witham at Wyndham Park in Grantham.
Environment Agency officers found the trap while carrying out routine inspections on the river.
The sad discovery comes just weeks after local volunteers reported seeing a pair of otters swimming in the same stretch of river. Their return signals just how much the river has improved in recent years.
As otters are a European Protected Species and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, not taking enough care or deliberately injuring an otter is an offence that can be prosecuted. Offenders face an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison.
The discovery of the otter has sparked a witness appeal from the Environment Agency and Lincolnshire Police.
Darren Randall, fisheries officer with the Environment Agency, said: “We all want to protect our precious and threatened wildlife, like otters, water voles and native crayfish, which is why it’s so important that activities like fishing and crayfish-trapping are carried out responsibly.
“This case is especially worrying because it threatens native, endangered species of crayfish, which are afforded the same protections as otters under the law.
“If you see suspicious fishing or trapping activity, please report it to us on 0800 80 70 60 and help us prevent tragedies like this in the future.”
DC Flint, Lincolnshire Police wildlife officer for Grantham, said: “We were notified about this incident at 3pm Thursday, and were informed that an otter was found deceased in an illegal trap. We will be investigating this and will take appropriate action.”