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Orphaned otter ends up in police custody

Wink the otter who caused a commotion at Lerwick police station after being handed in on Thursday morning. Photo Chris Cope/Shetnews

AN ORPHANED otter cub ended up in custody at Lerwick police station after losing its mother during Thursday’s stormy weather.

Council workman Neil Sinclair from Weisdale found the weeks-old otter, named Wink, on the side of the road in the Sandyloch area just south of the town.

Sinclair said he stopped his van thinking it was a hedgehog. “I had a look and it made a whining sound,” he said.

“Then I met another guy who said he had taken it off the road twice already, so I took it to the vet but they were closed so I took it to the police station thinking they would know who to contact.”

The policewoman who took the otter in was Sergeant Victoria Duthie, who had already had an experience with wildlife in trouble in Shetland.

Safe in police hands. The lucky survivor is on its way to Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary after being cared for by Shetland Vets.

On Christmas Day two years ago she was called out to deal with a stranded seal in the town centre.

“That seal ended up being called Hood, so we suggested calling the otter Wink,” she joked, but the name has stuck.

The police called in local vet Jim Tait who examined the young animal before giving it some refreshment and keeping it warm at the Lerwick practice with the help of Shetland Vets staff.

“It was wet and cold so we put it on a heat pad and it seemed to perk up,” Tait said.

“Then we put it in a cage with some Lectade (rehydration fluid), which it’s been lapping. It’s certainly a little bit livelier than when it came in.”

The police thought it might have been injured, but the vet said there appeared to be nothing physically wrong with it.

On Friday the young otter will be heading for Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary where it will join two other otters and seven seals currently being cared for.

Sanctuary owner Jan Bevington thanked everyone who had helped with the rescue. “Neil definitely did the right thing picking up the otter and making sure it was in safe hands,” she said.

However she said that Wink would have to be kept apart from the other otters as they fight.

“I get advice from the Chestnut Centre in Derbyshire about otters and they warned us not to put our other two otters together, because they can kill each other,” she said.

Sergeant Victoria Duthie, then a mere PC, with the seal pup Hood on Christmas morning 2013.

“We’ll probably have to do the same with Wink, so we’re going to need new otter facilities pretty quickly and will be calling on volunteers for help.”

Bevington said this was the largest number of animals the sanctuary had looked after since the Braer oil spill 22 years ago “when we had a lot more people around to help”.

She said the coarse weather was probably to blame for seals washing up on beaches after being separated from their mothers, and otters being washed out of their holts.

“Though there are always naughty otter cubs who run away from mum and end up in trouble,” she said.

She also asked for people in the Sandyloch area to keep an eye out for a dead female lactating otter, as one of the main reasons otter cubs end up in the sanctuary is because their mothers are killed on the roads.

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