Join survey to help endangered water vole

Water vole
Water vole

People in Hertfordshire are being asked to help save an endangered wild animal.

The water vole has experienced the most severe decline of any wild mammal in the UK.

In 2015, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) launched the first National Water Vole Monitoring Programme.

Following two successful years, PTES is once again calling for existing volunteers and new recruits to survey sites for signs and sightings of water voles, to find out how populations are faring across the UK.

Water voles were once a common sight along UK riverbanks and waterways, but during the 20th century their populations experienced a dramatic decline due to the intensification of agriculture, loss and fragmentation of habitat, pollution of watercourses and, more recently, predation by non-native American mink.

Between 1989 and 1998 the water vole population crashed by almost 90 per cent.

Since then conservation groups have been working hard to improve habitats and control mink numbers, to try and save the much-loved water vole.

Last year, PTES received data from 404 sites across England, Scotland and Wales, of which 185 had water vole signs present (46 per cent).

A large number of the sites surveyed are in Scotland, so PTES is looking for more volunteers to survey sites across Britain this year, to get a clear picture of water vole numbers.

Volunteers are asked to survey one of the pre-selected sites, recording all sightings and signs of water voles along a 500m length of riverbank during May. No prior experience is required, but volunteers will need to learn how to identify water vole field signs.

To find out more, visit www.ptes.org/watervoles