Why we need Water Vole SurveysJuly 14th, 2015
Surveys are needed to ensure that protected species aren’t too effected by any new developments, and they can go a long way to providing a better environment for everyone. These surveys also need to be carried out for water based animals, too, and one of the most common types of survey here is regarding water voles. Water voles are the largest of Britain’s vole species, and taking the proper care of them is essential for their survival.
Water voles can be found in rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and even ditches, but the ideal habitat would feature slow moving water that maintains a consistent level. They like to avoid areas that have too much shade, have been trampled or are heavily grazed, and they generally feed on vegetation such as herbs, grasses and reeds. They also live in colonies, and males have been known to have home ranges of around 60metres to 300metres.
The water vole population has been seriously declining over the years, which is why legislative protection was given to the species. They are protected under section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which means it’s a criminal offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to anything used by water voles for shelter or protection. It’s also illegal to sell water voles or possess them, so they need to be kept in their natural habitat.
Water vole surveys can occur at any time of the year, but the breeding season is when this species is most active above ground. This season lasts from mid-April to mid-September, and it will be when field signs are most obvious. Outside of breeding season it can be harder to see these field signs as water voles spend the majority of their time below ground. Things to watch out for include droppings, cutting patterns and burrow systems, all signs that water voles are present in the area.
Carrying out a water vole survey is a legal requirement and doing so will help to safeguard this protected species. These surveys will be able to establish what needs to be done if you are planning a new development, and techniques can be used to encourage the water voles to move to a nearby alternative habitat. If you ever need help with water vole surveys then Southern Ecological Solutions has the experts and experience to do the job.