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Baby water voles spotted at Moors Valley
RANGERS at Moors Valley Country Park are celebrating after baby water voles were spotted in the grounds.
Water voles, which are Britain’s fastest-declining mammal, were brought to East Dorset during a long-term reintroduction plan in September 2011 and June 2012 overseen by the East Dorset Countryside Management Service.
The country park’s communication ranger Katie Davies said the species has been flourishing since their arrival, but winter flooding has hindered monitoring programmes.
“We know they have been breeding, as we’ve seen babies, which is really lovely,” she said.
“We have got to continue monitoring as soon as water levels start to drop again. We all have our fingers crossed that we have an established population now.”
Although more water voles can be introduced, rangers hope the current population is now self-sustaining with the arrival of the babies, which only weigh around five grammes when they are born.
Katie said: “We are very much hoping flooding issues haven’t caused any problems for the water voles.
“Since they were introduced, we’ve had numerous sightings. Two lots of around 150 were introduced in two years, which establishes new bloodlines and boost the population.”
Rangers relied on the nine landowners around the river to provide sustainable habitats for the water voles, and crucially to monitor for mink activity.
More than 6,000 mink were released from a fur firm in 1998, which had a huge impact on the vole population.
The UK’s leading water vole conservation specialist and breeder Derek Gow said: “The importance of the work at Moors Valley really cannot be overstated.
“Moors Valley is the first country park in the south to have taken this initiative, which is also the first reintroduction programme for Dorset.”
For more information, visit www.moors-valley.co.uk