Revive Dying Water Vole Populations

Target: Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

Goal: Support water vole repopulation efforts through expanded funding and a new Environment Act.

In the UK, more than 90% of water vole populations have died out, disappearing from 94% of places they were once found due to habitat loss, water pollution, and introduction of the predator American mink. Habitat loss is exacerbated by urbanisation and development, and pollution from farm waste, chemicals, and pesticides. There have been repopulation efforts across the country, including 570 water voles released in one area alone in 2017, but these efforts are not enough to combat their rapid decline.

There is simply not enough funding for surveying efforts, habitat restoration, and mink management programs. In one successful case, a combination of mink trapping and shooting, habitat restoration, and careful surveying of water vole populations saved an entire population from 18 in 2003 to 345 in 2011. The culprit was one recorded female mink that did the damage in just a span of two years. Furthermore, extreme drought and loss of riverside vegetation isolate and expose populations, leaving them vulnerable to other predators such as stoats and weasels.

While the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs has been supportive and is planning a 25-year environment plan that includes creating/restoring 1,235 acres of wildlife habitat for helping species such as the water vole, the Wildlife Trust asks for more. They ask for a new Environment Act to support this nature recovery network, and for increased funding for water vole conservation efforts.

Without funding, conservationists must rely on landowners and volunteers to survey and manage riverside habitats, but oftentimes this is not enough. The water vole is a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, so increased funding for their survival should be a priority. Sign the petition below to urge the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs to help revive water vole populations.


Dear Ms. Moriarty,

The water vole is an important mammal whose burrowing and feeding behavior along the edges of watercourses create conditions for other animals and plants. However, their populations have declined over 90% across the UK. This blow to their population is due to habitat loss, water pollution, and the introduction of the American mink, a fierce predator. On one occasion, where one American mink was recorded in an area, 95% of the water vole population was wiped out in just two years.

Currently, there is not enough funding for surveying efforts, mink management, and habitat restoration. Furthermore, disappearing water meadows, loss of riverside vegetation, and extreme drought leave water vole populations isolated and even more vulnerable to predation.

There have been instances of success in conservation efforts, but this requires collaboration between landowners, volunteers, and wildlife groups. They need funding to continue their efforts in saving water vole populations. Your department has announced that it will dedicate 1,235 acres of wildlife habitat under a new nature recovery network. The Wildlife Trust is asking for a new Environment Act and increased funding to accompany your plans. This demand is justified and necessary to help save water vole populations from declining further. I hope that you consider this mammal’s importance and recognize that it needs your help. Please ensure that resources are allocated to help secure its future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Peter Trimming

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  2. Rosslyn Osborne says:

    This is unacceptable, these animals must be saved at all costs. They are a unique balance in your ecosystem.

  3. All of us connected one way or the other, remember the old adage, the extinction of one is the extinction of the other.” Please save them!

  4. Christopher Porter says:

    Please provide enough money to help conserve Britain’s wildlife, and eradicate invasive species. The water vole, “Ratty”, of ‘Wind in the Willows’ fame, is an iconic piece of Britain’s natural heritage, and would be sorely missed if we let it go extinct.

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