10 JULY 2018
An injured otter rescued by the ISPCA and a conservation officer and rehabilitated by the Kildare Animal Foundation (KAF) has been released back into his natural habitat.
The otter, called Henry, was found wandering on the side of the road near the Meeting of the Waters in Wicklow last month. He was rescued, and subsequently assessed by a vet who believed Henry had sustained neurological damage because he could not use his hind legs. After days of intense care by Dan Donoher and his team at the KAF, Henry made an astounding recovery.
The team who had nursed Henry back to health determined last week that he was ready to go home. He was returned to the Meeting of the Waters in a specially made otter carrier crafted by Greystones Men’s Shed community group. ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling, KAF volunteer Chris Budde-Petch, NPWS Ranger Ann Fiztpatrick and the two members of the public who had helped secure the otter when he was found injured were present for the release.
Henry’s carrier was placed on the rocks of the riverbank, and the door opened for him. After poking his head out hesitantly, he scurried over the rocks and swam into the water nearby. Henry’s rescuers were able to observe him in his home for some time before he disappeared upstream.
Chief Inspector Conor Dowling said: “When we first found him we were unsure whether Henry would survive. We are relieved he made such a remarkable recovery with Dan and his team at the Kildare Animal Foundation. I am always delighted to work with other animal rescue groups, and to see injured animals such as Henry recuperate and return to their homes.”
Dan Donoher said: “It’s always a great feeling to see one of the wildlife casualties we help stepping back into his natural habitat. Henry’s future was uncertain when he first came to us but he really held on, and turned a corner and regained his health in our care. This is a great example of the difference we can make when rescue groups work together.”
Unfortunately otters can be victim to water pollution, road kills, and fish traps which have taken their toll on otter habitats in Ireland. Under the Wildlife Act 1976, it is an offence to hunt, disturb or intentionally kill an otter.
If you are in any doubt about animal welfare concerns, the ISPCA would like to encourage members of the public to report online in confidence here https://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.
Thank you to KAF volunteer Chris Budde Petch of petchie.com for the photographs and video footage of the release he so kindly provided us!