A DOG walker was shocked to find a dead otter in a Southampton park.

Harrisson Dyett discovered the dead animal on path in Mayflower park as he walked his American Akita Lucy.

"I though it was a rat at first but as I got close I realised it was an otter," said the 26-year-old financial trader who lives in nearby Oxford Street..

"It's' not the sort of thing you expect to find in a park in the city." he added.

Mr Dyett said he walks his dog in the park most mornings and has never seen an otter, alive or dead.

He said he could see no obvious injuries on the animal although some blood came from its nose when he rolled it over.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust confirmed that there are otters in the test and the Itchen but could not say for certain how the otter had come to be in the park.

Otters are a protected animal and if one is found dead it usually sent to the Environment Agency for a post mortem.

im Sykes, Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology (Solent) Team Leader for the Environment Agency said: Otters are a predator at the top of the food chain in our local rivers. The health of the population is therefore an important measure of the health of the whole aquatic ecosystem. In recent years otters have been seen in river catchments across Hampshire, but their recovery increases the risks of accidental deaths, especially from collision with cars on busy roads where they cross rivers.

"The Environment Agency collects dead otters and we rely on members of the public to report any sightings of dead Otters to the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 03708 506 506 (ask for your nearest Biodiversity Officer).

"Otter carcasses are sent to Cardiff University for a post mortem to help provide vital information about the condition of the animal before it died, and where possible an insight into the cause of death.

An eco-toxicological examination is also carried out to determine any accumulation of chemicals and contaminants in the Otter – this information is very important to us at it reflects the health of our local rivers and wetland habitats”.