Three orphaned otters have been released into the wild after more than nine months in care.
Stream, Eddie and Smoult were taken to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, when they were cubs aged between eight and 10 weeks old.
After months of rehabilitation, the Scottish SPCA has set the trio free in a freshwater loch at a secret location in the Highlands.
Centre Manager Colin Seddon said: “There are many factors that need to be met before we can release otters back into the wild – the weather, site location, otter population in the area and land owners’ permission. All of these must be in place to ensure the best chance of survival.
“With help from the Woodland Trust we were able to access the remote release site in the Highlands in order to successfully release the otters.
“Without their help we would not have been able to access this site.”
One of the otters is released in a secret location (Colin Seddon/Scottish SPCA/PA)
Support feeding and shelter has been provided for the trio and they will be monitored using camera traps to get feedback about how well they are doing.
This method was successfully used last year, at a release on Mull, where those who were released are still doing well several months later.
Otters were driven to near extinction throughout the UK between the 1950’s and 1970’s.
However, due to improvements in water quality and legal protection they can be seen once again in Scotland and other parts of the UK.
Mr Seddon added: “Anyone who finds an otter cub that is calling for its mother should at first observe from a distance providing the cub is in a safe position.
“If the mother does not return before dark then the cub will need to be brought into our care.
“If the cub appears in anyway injured or ill please call our animal helpline immediately and contain the otter if possible.”
The charity has cared for 105 otters since opening their Fishcross centre in 2012, 96 of which were cubs.