Otters: licences for possession

NatureScot can issue licences to let you possess otter specimens legally for scientific, research or educational purposes.

All otters, whether alive or dead, are protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994.

If you have a dead otter, or part of a dead otter – including skin – that was collected since June 1994, you must have a licence to possess it legally.

NatureScot can issue licences for the possession of otters for scientific, research or educational purposes. For a licence to be issued, you must be able to clearly show the scientific or educational purpose.

Such a licence is used to permit, for example:

  • scientists to use otter samples for research
  • museums, schools or ranger services to display dead otters for educational purposes

How to apply

To apply for a licence to possess a dead otter, email [email protected].

You should include:

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • the number and nature (whole or part) of individual specimens
  • the purpose of possession
  • the date and location where specimens were found
  • where specimens will be kept

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team
Telephone: 01463 725 364
Email: [email protected]

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