The mysterious disappearance of a Carlisle couple's garden pond goldfish has been solved, thanks to the installation of a night vision video camera.
Pensioners Elizabeth and Harry McDougall, the proud owners of two ponds, were distraught to wake up one morning earlier this year to find all 27 of their pet fish missing with nothing remaining expect a few scales and bits of fin.
Their fish had been preyed on before by a heron, but this attack was different. The McDougalls decided to restock the pond with 12 new fish, and to deter further attacks Mr. McDougall covered the ponds with a layer of tough plastic netting and installed CCTV to keep a closer eye on the nocturnal comings and goings in their garden.
However, despite these protective measures they awoke a few weeks later to another empty pond.
Reviewing the CCTV footage the couple were surprised to see a large otter checking the netting for weak points, before pushing its way underneath and boldly feasting on the unfortunate fish until it had stripped the pond bare once more. You can view the footage below:
The McDougalls suspect that the recent installation of an 'otter pass' on a nearby road may have brought the fish-loving mustelid to their garden but despite the carp carnage they remain pro-otter conservation, only hoping their pets' sad fate will help warn others of the potential risk.
Earlier this year the results of a survey by the Environment Agency showed that otters were once more resident in every English county, a remarkable recovery by the species which was on the brink of extinction in the country in the 1970's.
Pond owners are reminded that otters and their resting places are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
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