Rare water vole sighting on River Cerne in Dorset
Wednesday 5th July 2017
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is pleased to have received notification of a water vole sighting on the River Cerne in Forston, near Dorchester.
The last recorded sighting of a water vole on the River Cerne was in 2012.
This is a welcome sighting as the water vole is Britain’s fastest declining mammal. This is the first recorded sighting for many years on the River Cerne which runs into the River Frome.
An image of the water vole was captured on a wildlife trap camera by local resident, Gill Reece. Gill said, “We moved here 10 years ago and have cared for and, we hope, improved the riverside habitat by adding native plants and trees. We’ve seen evidence of otters in recent years, and the icing on the cake now is the return of the water voles.”
The water vole is in decline nationally but Dorset remains a stronghold for them
Nationally, the water vole is in decline due to a variety of reasons including predation by the American mink, and habitat loss. However, Dorset is bucking the trend and remains a stronghold for them.
DWT’s River Catchment Team Manager, Amanda Broom, said, “It’s such a joy to see this picture and know that our fantastic rivers and wetlands in Dorset are home to this captivating species. Water voles are under intense pressure from American mink and habitat loss, yet it shows with the right care by residents and landowners, water voles can still flourish.”
Water voles with their stubby noses, short tails and almost imperceptible ears held flat against their heads are strict herbivores, eating up to 250 different species of vegetation, including water forget-me-not and flag iris. These lush bankside plants also help water voles shelter from predators.
What to do if you see one...
Signs of the presence of water voles on a river include their droppings, which are small green pellets, feeding remains and burrows. If you see a water vole, or evidence of one please do not disturb it, and inform DWT via or phone the Dorset Wild Rivers Team on 01305 264620.
If you’re near rivers this summer, please adhere to bio security best practice with the ‘check, clean, dry’ procedure to avoid the spread of invasive non-native species into our rivers.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 26,500 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
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