Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Otter causes chaos in Tulla in County Clare

19 April 2011

An unlikely water-dweller has been making waves in a County Clare town.

A wayward otter turned on its would-be rescuers in Tulla on Monday as it was found wandering up the town's main street.

Farmer Joe Burke and shop owner Mike Hogan first noticed the animal as it passed by on the footpath outside Mr Hogan's window.

Concerned for its safety, they decided to come to its aid. However, the otter clearly had other ideas.

As a large crowd gathered, the otter became "very aggressive" and started trying to bite people.

Mr Burke was rewarded for his efforts with a nasty cut.

Tayto crisps

Eventually, the two men managed to corner the ungrateful creature in a courtyard. They planned to wait for professionals to come and take it to safety.

However, as Mr Burke explained: "He then put his head into a Tayto bag. It was wrapped tightly around his head.

"He couldn't see where he was going, he was bumping into walls and everything."

Fearing for the otter's life, Mr Burke decided to take on the rescue himself.

He took a thick bag used for holding animal feed, and after a minor struggle, managed to capture the animal.

The two men loaded their charge into the back of Mr Burke's jeep, and made their way to a local lake with the intention of releasing the otter back into its natural habitat.

But again the otter was refusing to go quietly.

"He chewed his way out of the bag," said Mr Hogan. "The back window was missing on the jeep so he jumped out when we stopped."

Traffic cone

The resourceful animal then made a dash for freedom half a mile back towards Tulla, before Mr Burke was able to catch it under a traffic cone.

The men slid a piece of plywood under the cone and carried it back to the lake, where they let the otter back into the water.

However, again the drama continued. The animal was so exhausted from its efforts that it began to sink.

"We pulled him towards the reeds and sort of propped him up," said Mr Hogan.

"After 10 or 15 minutes he got his breath back again and swam off."

A dramatic day indeed. The residents of Tulla may never see an otter one like it.

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