More water voles in Gwent thanks to The Co-operative

Wednesday 17th June 2015

Photo by Tom Marshall

Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT) has released almost 50 water voles thanks to support from The Co-operative’s carrier bag charge.

The voles were released at carefully selected sites around the Barecroft Common reserve near Magor in Gwent. The addition of these water voles adds genetic diversity that will help strengthen the newly reintroduced population found at the neighbouring Magor Marsh nature reserve and surrounding area. For almost ten years, Gwent Wildlife Trust has been working to protect the fragile water vole population from American mink and create the best conditions suitable for a water vole release. 

Water voles were once common in the area, but numbers dwindled following the invasion of the non-native American mink in the 1970s onwards, a sad trend reflected across the UK. Following the continuing work of GWT volunteers and staff, mink numbers were reduced enough to allow the establishment of a reintroduced population of water voles. For the last four years GWT has slowly reintroduced water voles back to Magor Marsh, and the excellent habitat available together with the controlled mink population has meant the population is now thriving.

The voles that have just been released at GWT’s Barecroft Common reserve were kept in large ‘soft release cages’; these are special cages placed onsite that contain sibling family groups. The cages allow water voles time to acclimatise to their new surroundings and then after three days the cages are open for the water voles to come and go as they please. The cages were then left on site for a further two days before being removed.

GWT along with other Wildlife Trusts are working hard to re-establish the once scarce water vole to be a permanent resident along the river banks of the UK.

Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Project Officer, Alice Rees said: “With the worrying trend of water vole loss across the UK, we are so proud to be helping this rare species make a comeback in south east Wales. Without the hard work of our volunteers and staff, water voles would certainly go extinct in Gwent and we’ll keep fighting to keep them here!”

GWT’s water vole reintroduction programme is supported by The Co-operative’s Welsh Wildlife Heroes campaign which is run by Wildlife Trusts Wales and funded by the money collected from the single-use carrier bag charge in The Co-operative food stores in Wales.

Tagged with: Welsh Wildlife Heroes