watervoleA major project to protect a threatened population of water voles has been completed thanks to close co-operation between the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Dorset Wildlife Trust. The project was jointly funded by BASC and the Sita Trust.

In 2013 a river survey carried out by BASC and Rookmarsh Ecology, found previously unknown colonies of water voles on the River Winniford, to the west of Bridport in West Dorset. The water voles were highly vulnerable because the habitat surrounding the colonies prevented their expansion.

BASC working with a team of Dorset Wildlife Trust volunteers have since carried out improvements – such as reducing over shading to encourage regrowth of bank side cover. The final phase of the work has been completed and the partners are confident that the population of water voles will expand in the spring.

Wildlife monitoring rafts will be used in the coming months so that BASC volunteers can monitor the population’s growth and to provide early warning of the presence of American mink which predate on water voles.

Robin Marshall-Ball, BASC’s Biodiversity officer for South West England said: “This is just one example of the close collaboration BASC has established with many conservation bodies. The combination of skills and the commitment of both sides produce conservation success stories.”

Nick Gray, Conservation Officer for the Dorset Wildlife Trust said: “I was delighted when the BASC survey discovered these colonies, and the excellent working partnership between BASC and the Trust has allowed us to make a significant difference to the habitat between these vulnerable populations”.

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