Endangered water vole makes a comeback
ONE of HMWT's nature reserves near Welwyn Garden City has recently been found to be offering a home to a scarce small mammal - the water vole.
ONE of HMWT's nature reserves near Welwyn Garden City has recently been found to be offering a home to a scarce small mammal - the water vole. Three years ago, when the site was last surveyed for them, no sign of Britain's most rapidly declining mammal was found. Now, thanks to conservation work by the Trust, signs of the water voles' return are very encouraging. Water vole numbers have declined by 95 per cent in the last 100 years and for every 20 water voles found previously, there is now only one. This catastrophic drop in numbers is largely due to habitat loss and predation by American mink, released from fur farms, which hunt and eat water voles and their young. The discovery at Stanborough Reedmarsh Nature Reserve of droppings, feeding signs and burrows coincides with the launch of a �586,000 project to protect and encourage Hertfordshire's water vole numbers. The Trust has secured �400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, which will also enable it to restore five other sites across the county to conserve this vulnerable animal. Since 2005 HMWT has been working in partnership with the Environment Agency and Welwyn Hatfield Council at Stanborough Reedmarsh. More than �10,000 has been invested in the restoration of the reedbed and the creation of ponds and ditches to make the reserve more suitable for water voles and other wetland wildlife. The Trust would like to hear from anyone interested in volunteering to help survey sites like Stanborough Reedmarsh Nature Reserve and other places in the county as part of its Wetland for Water Voles and People Project.