UK’s Fastest Declining Mammal Thriving on the River Ver - Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Two years on from Water Voles being reintroduced to the River Ver, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has announced that the geographical range of the animals has approximately doubled year-on-year.

The Trust, in partnership with the Ver Valley Society and a number of private landowners, reintroduced the nation’s beloved Water Vole to a stretch of the River Ver to the west of St Albans in August 2021, after the small mammals had been absent for a period of 34 years. This was made possible with funding from the Debs Foundation and Linder Foundation.

Since the 2021 release of the 150 Water Voles, Josh Kalms, the Trust’s lead on Water Vole reintroductions, has headed up a team of Water Vole Surveyor Volunteers, who have been trained to look for field signs of Water Vole occupation, including latrines and feeding sites. Full surveys have taken place in each of the two years following the release, the first data collected in 2022 reported a 238% increase in range along the river and its watercourses, whilst this year’s findings show the Water Vole occupancy in the Ver Valley, has on average, more than doubled each year.

Josh Kalms, Water Vole Officer at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust said: “Water Voles are a key species in wetland ecosystems and their actions are important for maintaining healthy wetland ecosystems – they are mini ecosystem engineers with their burrowing and feeding helping our river banks and wetlands stay in good condition. It’s wonderful to see how well the Water Voles are doing on the River Ver, testament to the private landowners who saw the ecological benefit of the reintroduction and all the hard work that went in to managing the habitat prior to their release. For that, I must extend huge thanks to the Ver Valley Society, whose volunteers have been instrumental in this project from the early planning stages of the reintroduction. Indeed, many of those are now trained Water Vole Surveyors and continue to be guardians of both the river and the species.”

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Posted On: 18/09/2023

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