A COUPLE has been left otterly devastated as they lost an estimated £5,000 after their prized fish were eaten by a greedy otter.

Eric and Linda McKenzie have lived in Bocking for more than 40 years and first bought their fish 15 years ago.

With a large pond on their property, the pair stocked it with 30 young grass carp.

Over the years, Eric says the couple enjoyed watching them grow as did many people, both young and old, who walk past the pond regularly.

But the couple were left shocked after finding the remains of one of their carp on the pond’s bank.

The couple sought the help of their neighbour, who set up a camera on their property to catch the culprit.

And they did not have to wait long as the large otter was caught in the act the following night.

The couple believe about ten of their prized carp had been eaten by the otter, a meal with an estimated value of £5,000.

But, due to the otter being a protected species and unable to stop it reaching the fish, Eric says there is nothing they can do to deter him.

They have now decided to give up their remaining fish before they too become dinner for the aquatic mammal.

Of the 30 fish which were bought, 14 have now been given a new home with six anglers taking them to a protected lake.

A devastated Eric says not enough is being done to protect fish from otters.

He said: “An individual grass carp to replace costs approximately £30 per 1lb in weight. On that assumption a 15lb fish would be worth £450.

“We cannot be sure of how many fish we have lost as we do not know when the otter first started its nightly raids.

“Originally we had 30 fish and 14 were rescued. We are guessing about ten fish, as we know we had lost a couple over the years. So we are thinking they were worth about £5,000.

“Otters are a protected species, so there is nothing you can do about them, but who protects our fish that were worth thousands of pounds?

“We would like to see some restriction on their breeding before the fish stock in our rivers is depleted.

“Although we got in touch with the Otter Trust, we have not received a response.

“The people responsible for breeding and releasing these wild animals have no thought for the fish stock in this country which is being decimated.

“I understand that fisheries are having to spend thousands to put otter-proof fencing in place.

“A farmer is within his rights to shoot a dog to protect his livestock, but there was no protection for our fish.

“There was nothing we could do other than choose to have the remaining fish removed to a protected lake.

“This was obviously upsetting, they have been a constant source of enjoyment and to see them killed in this way was distressing.

“I find it hard to understand how anyone unless they are sadistically minded to allow these animals to inflict such a painful lingering death often just tearing the throats out and being left to die.

“This problem is out of control and will not go away. The otters have no predators, so what is the answer?

“We have been fortunate to have lived in Bocking for over 40 years and enjoy our walks over the surrounding countryside and seeing the local wildlife, but feel strongly that more should be done to control these animals and take responsibility for their actions.”