AFTER a century in the wilderness, the otter is finally making a comeback — in Bolton.

Ecology consultants carrying out a survey of local rivers for the Environment Agency have found evidence of the animals living in Bradshaw Brook and the River Irwell near Ramsbottom.

Duncan Revell, the Environment Agency’s biodiversity officer, said: “This is fantastic news as these are likely to be the first confirmed reports of this species in this area of Greater Manchester for more than 100 years.

“The presence of otters is a strong indicator of the environmental health of a river. It reflects good water quality, habitat and food supply.”

Ecology consultants TEP recently examined rivers in Greater Manchester and found signs of their presence in spaints (droppings) left by the otters to mark their territory. They also found a possible otter holt or den at Bradshaw.

During the Industrial Revolution rivers were badly affected by pollution, their courses altered and weirs installed, preventing fish migration.

It meant the otter population was severely depleted to the point of near extinction.

If anyone spots an otter they are urged not to disturb it but to report the sighting to the Environment Agency hotline on 0870 8506506.