New scheme to pro­tect voles

The Scarborough Evening News - - WELCOME TO YOUR NEWS -

Af­ter years of na­tional de­cline, a pi­o­neer­ing scheme has been launched in the North York Moors Na­tional Park to re­vive the pop­u­la­tion of wa­ter voles.

Some suc­cess has al­ready been achieved says the park’s Sam New­ton and hopes are high that the fa­mous char­ac­ter from Ken­neth Gra­hame’s leg­endary 1908 clas­sic “Wind in the Wil­lows, will see num­bers rise af­ter many were lost due to mink es­cap­ing from spe­cial­ist farms and turn­ing feral.

The park’s new am­bi­tious project, “This Ex­ploited Land”, is run­ning the project sup­ported by the Her­itage Lottery Fund to save the voles. “Our project will also help to save many other species,” said Sam. “We al­ready have a good pic­ture of where sur­viv­ing pop­u­la­tions of wa­ter voles are, so the ini­tial step is to try and un­der­stand num­bers and move­ments of mink.

“From this we can work out how we can se­cure and hope­fully ex­pand our wa­ter vole pop­u­la­tion.”

He is urg­ing any­one in­ter­ested in mon­i­tor­ing the fa­mous “Ratty” char­ac­ter from Gra­hame’s book by re­port­ing sight­ings of mink. “This is the time of year when ju­ve­nile mink will be trav­el­ling long dis­tances, along and near wa­ter in search of a ter­ri­tory of their own,” added Sam.

The voles have also suf­fered as a re­sult of changes in agri­cul­tural land, and pol­lu­tion of veg­e­tated river habi­tats.

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