Water voles return to River Axe

PUBLISHED: 10:31 08 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:31 08 February 2013

Volunteer Gill Bullock, from Uplyme, gets to grips with using a mammal raft in a small tributary of the River Axe helped by Ranger Jim Hunter.

Volunteer Gill Bullock, from Uplyme, gets to grips with using a mammal raft in a small tributary of the River Axe helped by Ranger Jim Hunter.

Archant

Volunteers sign up for a project to encourage wildlife back to East Devon’s waterways

Volunteers are being trained to help safeguard the Axe Valley’s water vole population.

Ten new recruits have been learning how to check floating rafts for signs of animals which are using local water ways.

They will be particularly looking for water vole, a species that is making a gradual comeback to East Devon thanks to work already undertaken as part of a project to encourage them

The data the volunteers collect will be used by East Devon District Council to track the spread of water vole across the area.

Raft checking also helps in the control of American mink, an introduced species established in the wild after escaping from fur farms many years ago. Mink are voracious predators of water vole, and are responsible for much of the decline of native species.

Jim Hunter, nature reserves ranger at East Devon District Council told The Herald: “It is great that there are so many people out there who care about the health of their local river systems and who are willing to give up their time to keep them thriving.

“The help these volunteers have offered is crucial to the water vole project which could not continue without their support and for this East Devon District Council is hugely grateful.”

* The South West Water Vole Project is a partnership between the Environment Agency, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and East Devon District Council. It aims to see the spread of water vole across the South West region from Somerset to the south coast of East Devon.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the project should contact the Countryside team on 01395 517557 or email Countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk


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