The aischgrund is known far beyond its borders for its pond landscape and carp breeding. Countless pond farmers here make a living from producing carp for dinner. But that could soon be the end of it: the otter is on the march. If the otter falls into a pond, there won't be much left for the fish to eat.
"If after the cormorant and the beaver, the otter also comes, many will throw in the towel", martin oberle, head of the carp pond management office of the ministry of agriculture, which is responsible for the whole of bavaria, is sure of this.
One person who already has otters is fish farmer hans klupp from the upper palatinate. He is the chairman of the fishermen's association in his district and for him the situation is already "dramatic". From the czech republic and austria, the protected marten has moved into the bavarian forest. There were about a thousand farms here, even the smallest ones, where trout were farmed. "Half of them have already ceased their operations", says klupp.
Meanwhile, the otter is already eating its way through the rough carp farms in the tirschenreuth area. Out of 250, 80 have already given up. And that also changes the landscape. Klupp: "A pond that is not used does not survive." even compensation payments cannot help in the long term. According to klupp, damage caused by otters in the upper palatinate in 2017 amounted to 250,000 euros. This year the amount of damage will increase to one million euros.
The upper palatinate man is "skeptical that traditional pond farming is still possible in the future". For young people it is no perspective to take over a pond farming business. Because the ponds in the upper palatinate are often surrounded by dense forests, these are ideal conditions for the otter to spawn. In franconia, many ponds are located at local borders, which could still keep the poseable animal away, says klupp.
Protecting the pond from the otter with fences, as demanded by some animal lovers, is not an option for him. One hectare of pond has 400 meters of bank. At a cost of 100 euros per meter of fence, that was 40,000 euros. "A pond keeper never earns that in his whole life", says klupp.
The urban society does not understand the peasant mentality, the fish farmer states. Pond keepers do not work to feed cormorants and otters, but have to make a living from marketing their food fish.
The otter still enjoys full protection from the authorities. Klupp, however, expects that the government will soon "issue a permit for the extraction" will issue. Who should hunt the clever animal then however how, is for it still openly. His forecast for the future of the pond industry is "very bad, but realistic".
Martin oberle knows the situation in the upper palatinate region. The otter has already penetrated parts of upper franconia via the bavarian forest and lower bavaria. After a pond keeper in dechsendorf reported suspicious traces, oberle installed a camera. Results are still pending.
"The otter will come to us", oberle is convinced "the only question is, how do we deal with it?." the doctorate carp expert fears that the damage could become so severe that the pond economy could not support them.
Not an issue for a hundred years
Oberle looks back: the otter is at home with us. As early as 1876, the state provided funds to fight it. In the aischgrund, it was no longer an issue in the past hundred years; around 1940, it was even considered extinct. The otter not only eats a lot of fish, it can also get into a kind of blood frenzy. Then it just kills and leaves the fish lying around.
For helmut konig, chairman of the hochstadt-herzogenaurach nature conservation district group, the otter is not yet here. Konig believes it won't be as bad as now predicted. The otter depends on clean water, but the ponds in the aischgrund are relatively turbid. For the nature conservationist, those affected are now trying to make a lot of wind so that they can be heard. Nevertheless, you have to think about it, says konig. The BN recognizes that it is a problem and will take care of the otter.