Re-introducing water voles to the North Tyne
Water Voles are the fastest declining mammals in Britain due to loss of wetland habitat and predation by mink. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we have been working with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and The Forestry Commission to bring them back to our region through the Restoring Ratty project.
As a Trust we played an important role in the early stages of the project by making sure that Kielder is the right environment for water voles. To do this, our volunteers helped us to monitor for mink which is the water vole’s main predator, by building and checking mink rafts.
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.
Volunteers check 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.