And finally … love is (hopefully) in the air!

50 first dates for Salisbury's most eligible water voles - Environment Agency

Water voles were carefully removed from their transport cages to their release pens
Water voles were carefully removed from their transport cages to their release pens

A colony of water voles moved from Salisbury to Ringwood has just had a population boom with 50 new males and females moving in to make the population viable.

Salisbury’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes have been moved to an exotic location and will meet 50 potential lifemates with hopes romance will happen.

But this is more ‘Vole Island’ than ‘Love Island’. And instead of a sun-kissed location in Spain, a dozen water voles from Salisbury have been living on a farm in Ringwood for the past 5 months. They swapped city life for the country before construction started on the Salisbury River Park flood defence and regeneration scheme. Now everyone hopes they will find true love when they meet 50 new bachelors and bachelorettes that were bred in captivity.

The water vole population in Ringwood was severely affected by mink in the past. But with the mink population now in control, in time it is hoped the water voles will breed once they get past their territorial instincts.

Mike Porter of the Environment Agency said: “One of the Salisbury River Park’s aims, aside from reducing flood risk and regeneration, is to improve the environment for biodiversity. So it is very encouraging to see that spill over to this location where the voles are healthy and happy in their new forever home and, in time, will grow in numbers and spread afield.”

Water voles are a legally protected species and also Britain’s fastest declining mammal. A small population was found during survey work for the Salisbury River Park scheme. The scheme will deliver long-term benefits through habitat improvements for city wildlife, including water voles. However, a small number had to be were moved prior to construction. The scheme is providing ideal habitat for water voles and it is expected that the works area will be colonised quite quickly by voles from neighbouring populations.

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Posted On: 01/09/2022

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