A hungry otter chewed through chicken wire to kill a couple's prized collection of giant 22lb Koi carp in their garden pond.
The otter, one of a large colony believed to be living in and around Newport Pagnell, killed more than a dozen of the foot-long fish.
“We just want to warn other people with ponds that this can happen,” said owner Jo Tyrrell, who lives in Sherington village..
“People think otters are really rare because they are classed as an endangered species and protected. But in fact, there's said to be lots of them in Newport Pagnell – and now they are spreading to Sherington.”
Jo and her husband Ross are positive the culprit was an otter because of the distinctive way in which the fish were killed.
“Their throats were torn open and then their bodies were left. The otter didn't even bother to eat all the flesh,” said Jo.
The couple had secured chicken wire over their pond in a bid to protect the fish. But the otter's teeth chewed straight through the wire to make a large hole, they said.
“Some of the Koi carp were 15 years old. They'd grown to an enormous size,” said Jo.
Otters are fully protected in the UK under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They eat 15 per cent to 20 per cent of their body weight each day, and a large male may consume as much as 25lb of food daily.