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Searching for water voles in Surrey

Posted: Thursday 2nd February 2017 by Volunteering

Fancy getting involved in something a bit different this spring? Do you want to get out in the beautiful Surrey countryside and amongst some of Britain’s most iconic wildlife? Well our water vole project might be just for you.

As the temperatures start to rise and spring approaches, so does the water vole surveying season! The water vole project has had such a fantastic amount of support from volunteers over the past two years. Alex Learmont (Assistant Ecologist) tells us. A total of 64 water vole surveys were undertaken across the county between May to September in 2015. The second survey season saw a further 30 undertaken, bringing the total to 94.

 The vast majority of surveys have been carried out by volunteers who have been trained through The Trust’s RiverSearch Initiative in water vole survey methodology. We now have 65 trained volunteers helping in the search for Water Voles, with 28 being trained in 2016. A massive thank you to all those involved. Because of you we now have a much better idea of how the species is doing in Surrey – which sadly is not very well. During the 2015/16 survey seasons, no evidence of water voles has been reported on any of the 94 survey sites visited across the county.

It is believed the decline of the species in Surrey is due to predation from the invasive non-native American mink and the destruction and degradation of water vole habitat. Thanks to the information gathered through the water vole project SWT are going to complete a mink control strategy and identify key sites that might be suitable for a possible reintroduction of water voles in the future.

Surrey Wildlife Trust are involved in a number of projects which will help improve things for water voles in Surrey. We are restoring wetland habitat across the county and considering how to control mink on a county-wide scale. We have also assessed two key sites for their suitability to support voles, the first step in a long road to reintroducing the species.

To find out more or to volunteer for water vole surveying: or contact Alex Learmont:

Alex Learmont 

Assistant Ecologist 

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