Sunday Express

Wildlife pays price for month of floods

- By Jon Coates

WILDLIFE including otters and harvest mice have fallen victim to flooding in recent weeks, experts have said.

The rising water has forced otters on to roads where they were killed by traffic.

Great crested newts and water voles have also been displaced or killed by the deluges of rain which have swamped nature reserves and rivers.

Invasive species like Japanese knotweed have been washed on to these areas, threatenin­g habitats.

Hedgehogs could drown if persistent rain floods their nesting sites as they hibernate.

Wildlife experts have called for urgent government action to protect native species living in and around rivers from the increased threat of floods as a result of climate change.

Dorset Wildlife Trust has reported a rising number of otter deaths this autumn after rainfall left rivers so full and fast-flowing that the animals could not swim under bridges and had to take to land and cross roads.

Darren Tansley, Essex Wildlife Trust’s river catchment coordinato­r, has also noticed a rise in otters being killed on roads after leaving swollen rivers.

He said: “Every year when we have floods we get reports of otters being killed on roads.”

He added otters have been found in garden ponds as they seek fish when rivers turn into raging torrents.

Britain was bracing for icy weather this weekend with a risk of snow.

Yesterday the Met Office issued weather warnings for fog in the Midlands and South Yorkshire. Freezing temperatur­es were predicted in parts of the UK, with Scotland and the Highlands seeing temperatur­es plunging as low as -6C. Flooding also continued with swathes of farmland owned by billionair­e inventor James Dyson hit after a river breach near Coningsby, Lincolnshi­re.

Roy Moseley, head of conservati­on and land management for Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, said the recent flooding has affected great crested newts and harvest mice on its nature reserves.

One of these, Woodhouse Washlands, was swamped by five feet of water when the River Rother burst its banks last month.

Mr Moseley said: “Great crested newts are very rare and in this area 11 of their nesting ponds were flooded. “If fish washed into these ponds eat the newts’ eggs this will adversely affect their population­s.”

There are up to 90 newts at the washlands, with more than 30 harvest mice.

Mr Moseley said: “We hope the mice ran away from the rising water but they could have been displaced or killed.” He wants the Government to install more water storage ponds and to plant trees.

He also wants officials to work with farmers to alleviate the increasing floods likely to be caused by climate change.

 ?? Picture: TERRY HARRIS ?? DELUGE: Flooding on Lincolnshi­re farmland yesterday
Picture: TERRY HARRIS DELUGE: Flooding on Lincolnshi­re farmland yesterday
 ?? ?? ROAD KILL: Otters have died after being forced from rivers
ROAD KILL: Otters have died after being forced from rivers
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