Water voles return to Cheshire riverbank

Conservationists have found new evidence that the endangered water vole has returned to a large section of the river Gowy.

Back Brook, a tributary of the River Gowy, was surveyed by Richard Gardner, northwest lowlands water vole officer in July 2008 and he found no evidence of water voles. The same brook was surveyed again this year but this time he found 12 latrines, four burrows and numerous piles of feeding remains, all positive field signs of water voles active in the area.

Richard Gardner said: "This dramatic and noticeable increase in the water vole population can, without doubt, be attributed to the mink control efforts by BASC members on the River Gowy in the last nine months."

The American mink was brought over to the UK for the fur trade and has been breeding in the wild since the 1950s due to escapes from fur farms and in some cases releases by activists. It is one of the main reasons why water vole numbers have plummeted in recent years, making them Britain’s fastest declining mammal.

Green Shoots project officer for Cheshire, Ben Gregory, said: “This was the first mink control project to be initiated as part of the Green Shoots Cheshire scheme. Through the efforts of BASC members and local landowners we’ve been able to successfully despatch over 20 mink on a relatively short section of the river. Through continued mink control and habitat improvement work planned for later this year on both the Gowy and other rivers in the county, we hope to see more signs of this once common mammal returning to the county’s waterways.”

ENDS

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