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Water vole project is paying off
11:00am Sunday 15th September 2013 in Headlines
WATER voles are thriving at Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood after being reintroduced two years ago.
The small mammals, which are often confused with rats on the riverbank, are the fastest declining native mammal in Britain.
But more than 300 water voles have made their homes near the Crane and Moors river systems following the park’s reintroduction programmes in 2011 and 2012.
The park’s senior countryside ranger Matt Reeks said: “Moors Valley was the first country park in the south to take this initiative and we believe our hard work has really paid off for our water vole families.
“The project has also united the local landowners who we brought together and encouraged to provide suitable habitats and continue to monitor a wide surrounding area for mink activity to ensure our voles are not be eaten by this aggressive, non-native predator.”
Good habitat management is crucial to the success of a programme.
The park’s river system is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and Natural England, which inspects SSSIs, has put it in its top-rating category. “We have had many sightings of water voles near their release area over the last two years,” said Mr Reeks. “Recent indications show they are now populating the river system next to Moors Valley. We are interested in finding out how far they have moved along the river system.
“I’d ask anyone visiting Moors Valley or strolling by the Moors River to keep their eyes open – listen out for the distinctive ‘plop’ of the vole when it enters the water – and report any sightings to the Visitor Centre.”
For more information on the water vole programme and the full range of nature-based activities available at the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest contact the rangers on 01425 470721 or visit www.moors-valley.co.uk.