Water Vole Ecology
Water voles Arvicola amphibius can be found in both urban and rural areas. You will generally find them living within the banks of water bodies such as rivers, streams, ponds and ditches. They feed on a variety of different plant species including grasses and aquatic plants. Water voles burrow within the banks of water bodies, these burrows can extend for several metres. Successive generations can then use these burrows. They are the fastest declining wild mammal in Britain, this is largely due to habitat loss and the introduction of American mink Neovision vison.
Protection and Legislation
Water voles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
It is an offence to;
- Kill, injure or take a water vole
- Intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy its place of shelter e.g. a burrow
- Intentionally or recklessly disturb a water vole when it is occupying a place of shelter
- Sell, buy or possess a water vole
Direct sightings of water vole are rare and therefore surveying techniques rely on the observation of characteristic field signs including faeces, latrines, feeding stations, burrows and footprints. We will usually need to make two survey visits, one in the period mid-April to June and a second from July-September.
Licensing and Mitigation
Prior to any works that may impact upon water voles, a licensed ecologist may need to apply for a derogation licence from the appropriate statutory body for nature conservation. This derogation licence permits operations which would otherwise constitute an offence and we will work with you to develop a suitable mitigation plan.