FENLAND: Middle Level act to try and save water voles from extinction

By ADAM LAZZARI FENLAND is to lead the way to save water voles, the creatures which inspired the character Ratty in the children s classic The Wind in the Willows. Latest reports suggest they are on the verge of extinction in Britain. The number of sites

By ADAM LAZZARI

FENLAND is to lead the way to save water voles, the creatures which inspired the character Ratty in the children's classic The Wind in the Willows. Latest reports suggest they are on the verge of extinction in Britain.

The number of sites which are home to water voles has dropped by nearly 70 per cent across the country in the last seven years.

But rather than being wiped out by the weasels, their enemies in the much-loved Kenneth Grahame book, water voles are threatened by American mink.


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A meeting will be held in Wimblington later this month to discuss measures to save the water vole population in Fenland.

The inaugural meeting of the Mink Control Scheme is part of the Middle Level Water Vole Support Project, organised by the Middle Level Commissioners.

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Cliff Carson, environmental officer for Middle Level Commissioners, said: "The meeting should interest land owners, boat owners, anglers and basically anyone in a position to be able to control mink.

"It will be an opportunity for those with previous experience of mink control to exchange tips and for newcomers to get an insight into effective humane control methods of this problem species."

The scheme is supported by the Environment Agency, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Biodiversity Partnership and Natural England.

It focuses on controlling American mink numbers and creating riverside habitat suitable for water voles where it has been lost.

Live capture traps and rafts will be available for collection on the night of the meeting.

The aim is to set up a coordinated catchment-wide scheme that targets control during the most effective months prior to the breeding season.

Mr Carson said: "There is a genuine fear that water voles will become extinct if we don't get the mink numbers under control.

"They have been escaping from mink farms for the last 30 years and are now well established.

"Water voles are more prominent in the Fens than they are in other parts of the country but we are still seeing a definite decline."

n The meeting will be at Parkfield Pavilion, Chapel Lane, Wimblington on January 12, from 7.30pm.

Ample parking is available.

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