A West Buckland School caretaker has been honoured at Parliament for his fight to save otters

A West Buckland School caretaker has visited the Houses of Parliament to be presented with a national award for his unique role in promoting the protection of otters.

Dave Webb, 56, was given the award by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He was presented with his prize by naturalist and comedian Bill Oddie at the House of Lords today (Tuesday). North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones was at the ceremony to congratulate Dave.

Working actively to protect otters for more than 40 years, Dave is the founder of registered charity the UK Wild Otter Trust. It works with the angling community and fishing industry to dispel myths about the otter being a pest to fish, and to stop cruelty and persecution of the otter.

He has successfully secured the UK’s first humane trapping licence for otters, enabling the UK Wild Otter Trust to humanely trap and move otters to other areas of their river out of harm’s way.

The granting of this licence is regarded by many wildlife experts as a ground-breaking step for otter conservation in the UK.

Peter Heaton-Jones said: “Huge congratulations to Dave. This is a major achievement and he thoroughly deserves the recognition of this national award. I have spoken to Dave at length about his work and it’s hugely impressive.

“North Devon is the otter’s spiritual home, thanks to our Tarka connections, so it’s fitting that Dave has established his organisation here. I’ve pledged to do what I can to support his work”.

Dave, who works at West Buckland School, said: “I knew nothing about otters before the surprise of seeing one in my local river as a child.

“It became clear this animal faced a lot of persecution and conflict with fisheries. So little is still known about otter populations due to the animals being hard to spot, but they are a vital part of river life – especially here in North Devon – and it is satisfying seeing the progress as we work to protect them.”