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Water vole release in Hampshire


  • Author: Elaina Whittaker-Slark
  • Published: 19th August 2016
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Summer Water Vole Release 2016

 South Downs National Park Authority have successfully released another 205 water voles into the River Meon around Droxford.  They were stored overnight before the release days in a barn at the landowner’s Farm.  They were well looked after in the cool airy barn and even had their own guard dog to keep the farm cat out.  The landowner also helped by transporting the release pens out on site and the local river keeper assisted in putting out and collecting in the release pens.

 After feeding and checking the voles each day the volunteers and staff then went onto complete some surveying.  This included a water vole habitat suitability survey at a potential release site for next year.  After the survey has been written up we will then visit the landowners to feedback recommendations to improve their section of the river for water voles as well as other wildlife.

South Downs National Park Authority also checked the latrine floats (post release survey) and found lots of evidence of breeding water voles at sites where they have been previously released.  Smelling the dropping is a must as it’s the best way to confirm who has left them.  Otter spraint (rather interestingly) smells like freshly cut grass or jasmine tea!  While water vole droppings don’t have much smell at all as they mostly only eat vegetation.  They also checked some of the camera traps and will hopefully be able to confirm soon (once the images have been checked) that water voles have dispersed to another site where they haven’t been released to.          

 South Downs National Park Authority said big thank you to all the staff who came out to help with the release and surveys, it was very much appreciated.  They have now released 2133 water voles into the River Meon with one more year to go next year which will complete the extent of the river valley, allowing a self-sustaining water vole population to establish.   

The pictures were supplied by South Downs National Park Authority.

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