Otter joy as runner spots creature in city canal

A woman has spoken of her excitement after spotting a creature she believes may have been otter swimming along a canal in Wolverhampton.

Maria Saunders was on a run with her dog on Wednesday evening, when she spotted something, originally thinking it was a number of ducklings.

"It was an excited panic trying to get my phone out to take a video and picture," she said.

"I had a smile on my face and a spring in my step for the rest of my run and I guess it's motivation for me to keep up the running now."

Since the image was posted online, it has prompted discussion about the identity of the creature, with some believing it to be a beaver, rather than an otter.

Mrs Saunders made sure to double check it was not a dog, before carrying on with her run.

"My husband was gutted that he asked me to take our dog out instead of him," she said.

"I feel privileged to have been in the right place at the right time to capture this and share it."

According to the Woodland Trust, otters can be found throughout the UK, though with lower densities in England, which is worst affected by polluted waters.

Otter hotspots include the west coast of Wales and South West England.

However, shoppers in Shrewsbury were taken aback last November to see an otter wandering through the town centre.

Beavers populations are much more scarce, having been hunted to extinction in the UK about 500 years ago, according to the Woodland Trust.

The were reintroduced in 2009 and can be found in Knapdale and the Tay in Scotland, and more recently in Kent, Essex and the Forest of Dean.

Despite its heavily urban environment, Wolverhampton has green areas which boast a wild array of wildlife, including the Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve.

One man recently spotted a badger, a fox, and a muntjac deer within metres of each other at the same time in the reserve.

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