When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
New population of water voles discovered in West Dorset
11:14am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
A NEW population of water voles has been discovered in West Dorset as national figures released show a 22 per cent decline in their numbers.
The new colony was found on the River Winniford, between Chideock and Seatown by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
The association has been involved in a water vole project covering West Dorset and South Somerset and has found water voles in six rivers – but this is the first time they have ever been spotted on the River Winniford.
Now the water voles will be protected from predation by controlling American mink and the creation of suitable habitat which will allow the water voles to expand their range and numbers.
Since 2002 BASC has worked with the Environment Agency, Natural England and other conservation organisations to control mink and improve habitats in the south west.
Environment Agency funding has enabled work to be expanded onto the River Axe.
Robin Marshall-Ball, BASC’s Green Shoots project officer in the South West said: “We have been delighted to find new populations of water voles on six rivers in our project area.
"This is the first time water voles have been found on the River Winniford. We will use the survey information to target our work on habitats to link water vole populations together.”
Ian Danby, BASC head of biodiversity projects added: “Working with people who shoot is essential for taking action at the landscape scale.
"Shooting operates over two thirds of the UK’s rural land. People who shoot care about their environment and volunteer their time and effort to help species of conservation importance.
"Research shows that shooters put in almost three million work days on conservation each year.”
BASC has worked on water vole conservation in the South West in partnership with other organisations since 2002.
Rachel Janes, conservation officer for Dorset wildlife trust, said: “Habitats have been improved on the River Brit, and it would be fantastic to see evidence that water vole populations were expanding in the River Winniford.
“Bridport in particular is one of the key areas for water voles. We are very pleased to hear that the public are making sightings, and encourage members of the public to submit their sightings via the Living Records at the Dorset Environmental Records Centre.
“If the photo is verified as a water vole, this is a very positive step forward for Dorset’s water vole population.”
The water vole is considered one of Britain’s most endangered mammals and is rapidly declining in many areas.
Dorset does contain populations in the Lower Frome, the area around Gillingham, the Rivers Wey and Jordan and the Bride and Brit.
Comments are closed on this article.