Help survey water voles in your area to aid wildlife conservation - The Malvern Observer

Help survey water voles in your area to aid wildlife conservation

Malvern Editorial 15th Apr, 2024   0

BUDDING naturalists are being urged to channel their inner David Attenborough by helping with the search and surveying of water voles in their area.

Wildlife conservation charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) are hoping to better understand the species, whose populations have declined by 90 per cent since the 1970’s.

Residents across Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands can get involved in the National Water Vole Monitoring Programme by visiting their nearest stream, river, ditch or canal in search of the endangered species or signs of them.

Volunteer ‘water vole watchers’ can get involved from Monday, April 15 to Saturday, June 15 by recording their findings online.

There are 700 pre-selected sites that volunteers can survey, or a new site can be registered. No prior experience is needed, and free training via Zoom in April and May, and ID guides, are available online.

The results from the survey helps conservationists find where water voles are living, how their populations are changing each year, and most importantly, where they’re no longer found.




This data is crucial so PTES can understand where water voles need the most help and implement targeted conservation efforts to help prevent further decline.

Such efforts include restoring degraded rivers, improving connectivity between wetlands, and controlling the spread of non-native American mink – the water vole’s main predator.


Emily Sabin, water vole officer at PTES, explains: “With their glossy dark brown fur, blunt snouts and furry tails, water voles are incredibly cute, but the decline they continue to experience is nothing short of alarming.

“Thankfully, in some areas water voles are starting to make a comeback due to habitat restoration work and increased mink control, but their numbers are still much lower than they should be.

“To prevent any further losses and to hopefully start seeing water voles across our waterways more broadly, we need as many people to take part in our survey as possible.”

Since the National Water Vole Monitoring Programme was established in 2015, a total of 1,174 sites have been surveyed.

These include 677 pre-selected sites by PTES and 497 newly registered sites, showing that even if there isn’t a pre-selected site near to where a volunteer lives, they can still take part.

Emily adds: “Whiling away a few hours along a local waterway surveying for water voles is really enjoyable and rewarding, but it’s also a fantastic way to take part in conservation and to make a difference to the wildlife that lives around us.”

Visit www.ptes.org/watervoles for more information.

 

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