Monday, 29 August 2016

Water voles to be reintroduced to England's highest lake

National Trust will release 100 of the endangered animals, not seen at Malham tarn in Yorkshire dales for 50 years

Friday 19 August 201606.01 BST

Britain’s endangered water voles will reach new heights when they are returned to Yorkshire’s Malham tarn for the first time in 50 years.

Around 100 water voles will be reintroduced on Friday to the National Trust estate in the Yorkshire dales, home to England’s highest freshwater lake, in what the trust says is the highest-altitude reintroduction of the species it has carried out in Britain.

Immortalised as Ratty in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, the water vole is Britain’s fastest-declining mammal. The animal was once found in nearly every waterway in England, Scotland and Wales, but is now thought to have been lost in up to 90% of these sites, clinging on in isolated pockets, coastal marshes and backwaters.

The intensification of agriculture, pollution and development, plus poor riverside management, has brought about the loss and degradation of the riverbank habitat in which the voles live. But the sharpest declines in the past 30 years have been caused by the spread of the American mink. These animals have established themselves on the waterways after escaping from fur farms, and they prey voraciously on the water vole.

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