Lukáš Poledník, Kateřina Poledníková, Václav Hlaváč
The Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) is a specially protected wild animal species under the Act No. 114/1992 Gazette on the Protection of Nature and the Landscape in the Czech Republic. In addition, the mustelid is listed in Annexes II and IV to the European Community’s Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, more often referred as the Habitats Directive, and strictly protected under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). At the same time, the Eurasian Otter is a conflict species, because it can also forage for prey on fishponds which are numerous across the country. Under the Acts No. 115/2000 Gazette and No. 476/2001 Gazette and the Ministry of the Environment Decree No. 360/2000 Gazette the damages and loss of property caused by the above specially protected species can be compensated by the Government. The Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic prepared the Management Programme for the Eurasian Otter in the Czech Republic. In developing the document, experts from NGOs and research institutes were also involved. The Management Programm’s main aim is to maintain the permanent, viable Otter population in the country. Threats to the carnivore include poaching, collisions with cars, habitat destruction and loss and contamination by PCBs. The Eurasian Otter monitoring includes national-wide mapping of its distribution, mapping of the species distribution at sites on the distribution range edge within the country, estimation of numbers in the selected areas, monitoring the Sites of European Importance (i.e. the proposed Sites of Community Interest, pSCI under the Habitats Directive) proposed for the Eurasian Otter and collection of dead otters. In autumn 2006, the national-wide mapping of the Eurasian Otter was carried out, using the modified standard methodology developed by the IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group. It confirmed that the Eurasian Otter has been colonising new areas in the Czech Republic. While in the late 1980s and early 1990s the Eurasian Otter permanently inhabited 20 % of the whole country territory, in 2006 its permanent occurrence was found on 60 % of the whole territory of the Czech Republic; on other 15 % of the country’s territory the mammalian species occurs irregularly.