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News - December 2007 - Build an otter holt

Otters have a new home at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve thanks to work by volunteers from The Friends of Paxton Pits and from RWE npower. 
Using funds awarded to the St Neots Green Corridor Project Team, an environmental body set up by the St Neots Town Centre Initiative, the volunteers have built an artificial otter home, known as a holt. Otters are largely nocturnal animals, so a holt will provide a place for them to shelter during the day and even, perhaps, to breed. 

Volunteers from The Friends will carry out some of the work as part of their regular weekend working parties throughout the winter. The team from RWE npower came to the Reserve for the first time and completed the construction as part of their programme of work with conservation groups to improve the local environment. The holt replaces one that burned down earlier in 2007. Otters have become a regular and popular visitor to the nature reserve in recent years - click here for more information. 

Jim Stevenson, Senior Ranger at the Reserve, said: "Otters are making a welcome return to the area after being locally absent for the past 30 years, but they need all the help they can get. This year, no fewer than 14 have been killed in Cambridgeshire, 6 of them in illegally-set crayfish traps. This Landfill Tax credit scheme award, and the efforts of the volunteers, will give our otters a much better chance of thriving in the St Neots area." 

The RWE npower team consisted of volunteers from nearby Little Barford power station, and the company's site at Swindon in Wiltshire. The Friends' Chairman, Ray Matthews said "We are flattered and impressed that volunteers are willing to come all the way from Swindon to help our otters".

- St. Neots Town Centre Initiative is an independent body of local businessmen and residents aimed at improving the town centre and general environment of the fast growing town.

- The Green Corridor Project Team leads on biodiversity projects in St Neots'; unique green corridor which runs through the centre of the town. The project is registered with landfill tax regulator, Entrust. 
Volunteers review their otter-building work (Jim Stevenson)