Saturday, 23 March 2013

Water vole ladder link to help isolated colony

By Michelle Warwicker,  BBC Nature

Isolated water voles in London are being provided with miniature ladders to encourage them to venture further afield.

The wooden "superhighways" will allow voles to cross over high, vertical edges along the Grand Union Canal to reach new territories.

Conservationists hope the ladders could eventually be used nationwide to help genetically-isolated water voles on the UK's canals to meet and mix with other populations.

The ladders are being installed as part of a conservation project by the Canal and River Trust, which aims to reverse the dramatic decline in the UK's water voles in recent years.

They are being used for a small colony of water voles living at Hanwell Lock Flight, Ealing. But if successful, the ladders could be rolled out nationally as a new way of helping voles travel across canal banks.
vole ladder

The structures will allow the vole colony access to newly-constructed floating islands on the Grand Union Canal.

The manmade islands have been planted with vegetation for voles to nest in and feed on with the intention of extending the mammals' habitat and encouraging them to utilise more of the waterway.

Until now the voles have lived solely on a pond adjacent to the canal.

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