Voles are moved ahead of canal work

Around 60 water voles are being relocated from the Wiltshire and Berkshire canal to the River Meon in Hampshire

Around 60 water voles are being relocated from the Wiltshire and Berkshire canal to the River Meon in Hampshire

First published in News

ENDANGERED water voles have been removed from Swindon for their own safety ahead of Wichelstowe development works.

Sections of the Wiltshire and Berkshire canal are due to be renovated as part of the 4,500 home strategy in the area, which would put the lives of the protected species at risk.

In response Keystone Ecology has rescued around 60 of the animals from the canal, and plans to rehome them in the River Meon in Hampshire, where the creatures are considered locally extinct.

Sarah Jackson, project manager and head of ecology at Keystone, said the displacement was vital to protect water vole numbers.

“Any time we have a decision about protected species we have to weigh up if it is OK for the viability of the animal to stay there,” she said.

“The case for Wichelstowe is there are long sections of canal which need enhancing, and leaving the animals there would risk their lives. They had to be taken away. If we were to leave them in place there would not be enough vegetation for them to survive.”

Water voles have been in danger for a number of reasons in recent years, but efforts such as the one conducted by Keystone could help boost numbers.

“The population has massively declined over the last 15 to 20 years, and they are one of the fastest declining species in the country,” added Sarah. “It is due to a combination of factors, from habitat destruction to pesticides and the introduction of the American mink into our ecosystem.

“The minks have been here for a long time, and have worked their way into almost every water course. Where there are mink we will not find water voles.”

The animals were captured during the last month with a series of traps set up along the banks of the canal.

“They have now been moved to a breeding facility in Devon to be checked over and make sure they are fit and healthy,” Sarah said. “In three months they will then be released to a site in Hampshire.

“It is not the case that there are too many water voles in Swindon, it is simply that they cannot stay there for the duration of the works. Because there is a healthy population in the wider area, when works do cease they will move back in and repopulate.

“The ones we have removed will go to help boost the national population. We can be confident they will recolonise the stretch of canal so there will be no long-term impact on Swindon, and we can improve the picture by taking them to a county that has very low numbers.”

Comments (11)

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7:35am Wed 30 Apr 14

umpcah says...

Good Work Keystone and good luck to the voles !
Good Work Keystone and good luck to the voles ! umpcah
  • Score: 1

8:06am Wed 30 Apr 14

Rod Bourne says...

I'm suprised they wernt moved when the Waitrose building ruined the Canal .
I'm suprised they wernt moved when the Waitrose building ruined the Canal . Rod Bourne
  • Score: 1

12:07pm Wed 30 Apr 14

EmmBee says...

It's not the building that's ruined the canal - but who ever thought putting railings on the towpath under the bridge was a good idea?
It's not the building that's ruined the canal - but who ever thought putting railings on the towpath under the bridge was a good idea? EmmBee
  • Score: 4

12:40pm Wed 30 Apr 14

Bert of Bassett says...

Are all water voles bursting with flavour or just that one?
Are all water voles bursting with flavour or just that one? Bert of Bassett
  • Score: 6

4:20pm Wed 30 Apr 14

SAM2WIN says...

Top reporting by the Adver again.
This was on the BBC local website last Friday.
As a local "daily" paper ,can't we at least expect Fresh information
Top reporting by the Adver again. This was on the BBC local website last Friday. As a local "daily" paper ,can't we at least expect Fresh information SAM2WIN
  • Score: 3

7:55pm Wed 30 Apr 14

SAM2WIN says...

Bert of Bassett wrote:
Are all water voles bursting with flavour or just that one?
They are delicious barbecued or deep fried in tempura batter. ;-)
[quote][p][bold]Bert of Bassett[/bold] wrote: Are all water voles bursting with flavour or just that one?[/p][/quote]They are delicious barbecued or deep fried in tempura batter. ;-) SAM2WIN
  • Score: 0

8:37pm Wed 30 Apr 14

GalaxyMan says...

So they are moving them to a stretch of water where its proven that they can't survive? Hmm, is it just me that see's a bit of a flaw in this plan?
So they are moving them to a stretch of water where its proven that they can't survive? Hmm, is it just me that see's a bit of a flaw in this plan? GalaxyMan
  • Score: 3

9:25pm Wed 30 Apr 14

Oik1 says...

Your quite right GalaxyMan, these are fine healthy endangered Water voles, once they've had thier holiday in Devon, thier off to Hampshire where the natural and local Water Vole population have been wiped out by the reintroduced Otters, the apex predator, as well as Mink, the Otters scapegoat.
The honest truth is that they have very little chance of survival.
Your quite right GalaxyMan, these are fine healthy endangered Water voles, once they've had thier holiday in Devon, thier off to Hampshire where the natural and local Water Vole population have been wiped out by the reintroduced Otters, the apex predator, as well as Mink, the Otters scapegoat. The honest truth is that they have very little chance of survival. Oik1
  • Score: 2

10:05pm Wed 30 Apr 14

1 2 Could B says...

Oik1 wrote:
Your quite right GalaxyMan, these are fine healthy endangered Water voles, once they've had thier holiday in Devon, thier off to Hampshire where the natural and local Water Vole population have been wiped out by the reintroduced Otters, the apex predator, as well as Mink, the Otters scapegoat.
The honest truth is that they have very little chance of survival.
Yet another example of Swindon's "planners" claiming to be able to enhance nature.
Truth is they are just destroying the countryside for the sake of housing as usual
[quote][p][bold]Oik1[/bold] wrote: Your quite right GalaxyMan, these are fine healthy endangered Water voles, once they've had thier holiday in Devon, thier off to Hampshire where the natural and local Water Vole population have been wiped out by the reintroduced Otters, the apex predator, as well as Mink, the Otters scapegoat. The honest truth is that they have very little chance of survival.[/p][/quote]Yet another example of Swindon's "planners" claiming to be able to enhance nature. Truth is they are just destroying the countryside for the sake of housing as usual 1 2 Could B
  • Score: 3

9:24am Thu 1 May 14

Tramadolt says...

Yes, theres yet another elephant in the room, trumpeting over the usual spin which accompanies yet more building in this overcrowded town. WHY ARE THE VOLES EXTINCT IN THE PLACE THEY'RE BEING MOVED TO?!

Its pretty obvious that the voles in the area they're being moved to died out for a reason.

Unless the environment there has been changed, this move is basically a death sentence and a pointless waste of money (however positive the developers can pretend it is). Of course, Keystone Ecology will make a nice wad of cash, eh?

What a load of rubbish. As usual, we're not served by our local paper which not only runs the story late, but fails to ask the bloody obvious questions left begging.
Yes, theres yet another elephant in the room, trumpeting over the usual spin which accompanies yet more building in this overcrowded town. WHY ARE THE VOLES EXTINCT IN THE PLACE THEY'RE BEING MOVED TO?! Its pretty obvious that the voles in the area they're being moved to died out for a reason. Unless the environment there has been changed, this move is basically a death sentence and a pointless waste of money (however positive the developers can pretend it is). Of course, Keystone Ecology will make a nice wad of cash, eh? What a load of rubbish. As usual, we're not served by our local paper which not only runs the story late, but fails to ask the bloody obvious questions left begging. Tramadolt
  • Score: 1

8:13am Fri 2 May 14

kacanaltimes says...

Pedant's Corner:
It is the Wilts & Berks Canal... not the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal.
Pedant's Corner: It is the Wilts & Berks Canal... not the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal. kacanaltimes
  • Score: 0

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