Scarce Randstad otter run over by car

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An otter, a rare sighting in the Randstad, has been reported recently in Nieuwkoopse Plassen. Its triumphant return was short-lived, however, as a dead otter was found on Wednesday on the A12 near Gouda.  Natuurmonumenten (Dutch Natural Heritage Organization) fears that the otter is the very same one that brought joy last month when it was sighted for the first time in four decades. After the otter made its appearance, agreements were made with professional fishermen in the area to make special openings in their traps so that the otters couldn't get trapped in their nets and drown. The animal ambulance received a call on Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. that a large animal was lying on the shoulder of the highway near Gouda in the direction of The Hague. Director of the organization Bam de Jong was highly surprised when it appeared to be an otter.

Natuurmonumenten is planning to keep an eye out for more otters on the cameras at the Nieuwkoopse Plassen, but fears for the worst, a spokesperson said. "Roads are a great enemy of the otter. If the animal can't swim further, they have to go ashore and that can go wrong", Park Ranger John Pietersen said. The fact that the otter was run over proves, according to the nature organization, that the introduction of animal tunnels in the busy province of Zuid-Holland is "more than necessary". In 2011, in Hazerswoude, an otter was run over on the N11. The animal was therefore not counted as alive in the Groene Hart (Green Heart). The last time a live otter appeared in the Randstad was in 1976. Sadly, that creature was also run over. It is believed that this otter may have roamed to Zuid-Holland from Overijssel or Friesland, where the mammals were recently re-introduced. Park Ranger John Pietersen from Natuurmonumenten explains that otters can cover large distances in a very short time. "They can swim for eight hours straight, going to to three kilometers per hour."

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