I was really thrilled today to read on the BBC News Website that 200 captive-bred water voles have just been released at Brandon Marsh NR.
Water voles were found at Brandon Marsh in the 1940's and 1950's but, as has happened over much of Warwickshire, they became locally extinct. After decades of hard work by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the Reserve's Conservation Team a superb wetland habitat has been created on the reserve which is now ideal for water voles.
Fifteen of the water voles have been fitted with radio trackers so the mammals' whereabouts can be traced. It is hoped that eventually if the voles establish themselves and breed successfully they will gradually disperse into new areas of Warwickshire.
I think this is a real conservation success story and I must admit I can't wait to return to Brandon Marsh in the hope that on one of my visits I will get a glimpse of one of these charismatic animals.
Water Voles have suffered a catastropic and accelerating decline in numbers and contraction of range during the twentieth century. Two surveys demonstrated that the population had decreased from around 7 million in 1989/90 to less than one million in 1996/98 - a decline in numbers of about 90%. It is believed to be the fastest declining mammal in Britain today. The species receives full protection from government legislation.
The main reasons for the decline are loss and degradation of habitat and in recent decades predation by the non-native introduced American mink. Other contributory factors include fragmentation of habitat, fluctuating water levels, pollution, disturbance and accidental rodenticide poisoning.
BBC News Website
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Website
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