The main water courses have now been surveyed by volunteers for water voles! Sadly,
none were found on the Stour but hopefully, all is not lost as a substantial colony
survives to the North West of the area.
The decline in the uk water vole population, has been accredited to habitat loss
and mink predation. Mink are a non-native predatory species introduced by man, that
water voles have no defence against. Any plan to allow water voles to re-colonise,
will need to include measures to protect them from further mink predation. A natural
solution, is to encourage return of the native otter (above) to the local water courses.
The otter, being territorial and considerably larger than a mink, will not tolerate
mink within their territory. Tim Haselden WWT Wetlands Officer who is managing the
projectsays“Otters are protected by law in the UK following their near extinction
in the 1970’s. Today, with a ban on hunting, more environmentally-friendly farming
practices and improved river water quality, their numbers are slowly recovering and
evidence of otters have been found on the River Stour and a number of its tributaries”. To encourage otters, we have assisted the Wildlife Trust in installing several
artificial otter holts throughout the Stour Area. (see below)