Voles’ starring roles

Voles’ starring roles

Voles’ starring roles

First published in New Forest News by

A PROJECT to reintroduce water voles to Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood has been a success, say experts.

Numbers of the mammals in the area declined after animal activists released 6,000 mink from a fur farm near Ringwood in 1998.

The first water voles were released in the park last summer following extensive riverbank clearance and monitoring for predatory mink.

Their survival led to a second release this summer, with 120 water voles joining those already established in the river systems, introducing new bloodlines and a boost to the existing population. Now water voles are now being spotted regularly at Moors Valley.

Countryside ranger Matt Reeks said: “The water vole is Britain’s fastest declining mammal.

And that decline has been caused principally by loss of habitat and predation by North American mink. For a successful reintroduction we needed not only to ensure they had a suitable immediate habitat but also to monitor a wide area both inside and outside the park to make sure we were not bringing the water vole to a river system where they would quickly be eaten by mink.”

The team was assisted by the UK’s leading water vole conservation specialist Derek Gow, and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust - the inventors of the mink raft.

Eleven rafts were put in the river, enabling the rangers to collect evidence about the local mammal population.

After a year of regular monitoring, the area was declared mink free and the reintroduction went ahead.

Mr Reeks added: “The mink rafts have been designed to attract curious mammals, and once on board they walk over a clay pad which very neatly records their tracks.”

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree