UK wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is looking for wildlife enthusiasts to take part in its National Water Vole Monitoring Programme.
Members of the public are asked to help monitor signs of the UK’s disappearing water voles as part of its annual survey, which begins this weekend, Sunday 15th April.
The water vole was once a common sight along UK riverbanks and waterways, even inspiring childhood characters such as Ratty from Wind in the Willows. However, over the last century the water vole has experienced the most dramatic decline in numbers of any wild mammal in the UK. Threats from invasive American mink, habitat loss, agricultural intensification and river pollution are all contributing factors.
In response to this dramatic decline, PTES launched the National Water Vole Monitoring Programme (NWVMP) in 2015, when it appealed to members of the public to help look for signs and sightings of water voles. Over two hundred volunteers have taken part since 2015, and last year volunteers collected data from 222 sites across England, Scotland and Wales, PTES is particularly keen this year to hear from volunteers in the South West, parts of Wales, southern Scotland and across the West Midlands, where there are gaps in data.
Volunteers are asked to survey one of the nearly 900 pre-selected sites across the UK, recording all sightings and signs of water voles during the course of the two-month period. No prior experience is required, although volunteers will need to learn how to identify water vole field signs. A survey pack, including clear instructions on how to do your survey and a field signs ID guide, will be provided.
Emily Thomas, Key Species Monitoring and Data Officer at PTES explains: “Volunteers are crucial to helping us collect robust data about the state of our water voles across the UK. We use the data gathered to monitor population trends year on year, which in turn help guide our conservation efforts and inform us where action is needed most.”
To find out more, or to take part in PTES’s 2018 National Water Vole Monitoring Programme, which runs 15 April to 15 June, visit: www.ptes.org/watervoles