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Intense farming behind decline in East Lancashire water voles
4:04pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
WIND in the Willows scenes in rural Lancashire are under threat after figures showed water vole populations dropped by 40 per cent since 1998.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust said the species was now one of the most endangered in the county and its disappearance could present a ‘scary’ picture of the state of the region’s eco system.
The study, which was taken as a snapshot of the county’s population, focused on specific areas where water voles were known to live.
They are most commonly found in low-lying marsh land and near rivers.
Although it is impossible to give an exact number of voles, which are often mistaken as rats, experts believe the dramatic reduction is due to a mix of intensive farming, which has destroyed habitats, and the spread of North American minks.
Tim Mitcham, head of conservation at the trust said: “It’s quite scary.
“The reduction is due to a number of issues such as intensive farming of areas and the spread of minks who are their big predator.
“Presence of water voles is often quite a good indicator of how healthy an eco system is because when they thrive, wildlife in general seems to flourish.
“We are trying to help bring the species back by working with farmers to ensure methods don’t harm their homes by river banks and in marsh lands and also through awareness raising amongst the general public.”
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