Helping Ratty back to Kielder
As part of our work on the Restoring Ratty project to bring the water vole back to Kielder, we’ve been monitoring for its main predator, mink by installing mink rafts in the Rede. A mink raft is a floating platform which encourages mink to leave evidence of their presence in the form of footprints. The raft has a layer of clay on the base – mink are naturally inquisitive and can’t resist a tunnel so will explore the raft leaving track imprints on the clay.
Our volunteers have been checking the rafts fortnightly to look for imprints and so far we’re happy that mink aren’t a problem in the area where the water voles have been re-introduced. Volunteers were also lucky enough to help with the the last release of water voles in June and spent a fantastic afternoon handling them before their release.
The Restoring Ratty project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is a partnership between Tyne Rivers Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission. It aims to reintroduce water voles to the North Tyne after they became locally extinct from the predation of non-native American mink. Water vole populations have been declining long term and the population has reduced by 90% since the 1970s due to predation by mink and loss of habitat.
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with the Restoring Ratty project you can follow it on Facebook: www.facebook.com/restoringratty