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IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
© IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group

Volume 27 Issue 2 Pages 59 - 122 (June 2010)

Workshop Report
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A Bloody Workshop – on Post-Mortem Analyses
of Otter, Lutra lutra

Biologists and veterinaries from across Europe gathered in Denmark in February to discuss and practice post mortem analysis on a workshop arranged by the IUCN Otter Specialist Group, Europe. The workshop aimed to produce a standardized post mortem protocol, and to promote wider collaboration between nations.
Across most of the Eurasian otter’s range in Europe the populations are subjected to considerable mortality due to road traffic accidents and other anthropogenic causes. In some countries Information on mortality locations and carcasses are collected systematically to guide conservation efforts. However, the standards of information, post mortem analysis and sample collection vary widely between countries.

As the otter is protected in throughout Europe the carcasses from these incidental killings are a valuable resource – if not the only source – of samples that can be used for research, e.g. health, contamination exposure, and to assess conservation status of populations and effects of conservation efforts.

Vic Simpson presented the post morten protocol that he has used in the UK on more than 400 otter carcasses, which has evolved into a standardises method for analysis and sample collection.

Standardized post mortem analysis, sample storage and a database on tissue banks will enable closer cooperation and more detailed pan-European studies, which ultimately may result in more efficient management tools and conservation plans for otters. The post mortem protocol will be presented on the next International Otter Colloquium expected to take place in Pavia, Italy in 2011.

The workshop was arranged by The Swedish Museum of Natural History and National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Denmark.

For more information please contact: Morten Elmeros: elm@dmu.dk

A dead otter on the examination table, with Vic, suited up, pointing out the external features to be noted before dissection begins.

Figure 1. Vic Simpson demonstrating the first step in the examination of a road killed otter (click image for larger version)

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