UK’s fastest declining land mammal reintroduced in huge numbers

Britain’s biggest reintroduction of water voles with more than 700 of the endangered rodents set to be released before the summer.

Water Vole Profile
Water Vole. © Peter Trimming at Flickr

Water voles or more famously known in the UK as Ratty, the much-loved character in The Wind in the Willows, hold a very special place in Britain’s natural history.

But the species has experienced a massive decline over the last few decades owing to increased urbanisation, waterway pollution and the rampant increase of the American mink, which has proved to be a voracious predator to the native vole. More than 90% of the vole population has died out, making it UK’s fastest declining land mammal.

According to a report by The Guardian, the reintroduction plan will see 325 voles released into Kielder Forest in Northumberland with 350 more to follow later in the summer.

The Restoring Ratty project was funded with a grant of £421,000 over five years from the Heritage Lottery Fund; and is run by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and Tyne Rivers Trust.

Kelly Hollings, of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: “Water voles belong here and are an essential element of our wild and watery places. It’s terribly sad to have witnessed such huge declines of this lovely mammal in my lifetime. We’re doing everything we can to help bring them back.”

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