the interest in my previous blog Water
Voles both Natural England and the
Environment Agency have sent information concerning
the preservation of voles and their habitat in Somerset’s
smaller waterways and drains.
dredging works should seek guidance from either NE or EA before
beginning but as an issue of great local concern I shall outline
the principles of vole preservation below.
It is essential
that smaller drains and rhynes are kept relatively clear and my
concern in this blog is for small holders who might want to dredge
short length of watercourse.
It needs to
be stressed that Water Voles are a priority species and afforded
total protection by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Causing
damage or harm to either the animals or their habitat is a criminal
offence, punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment and claiming
that you did not know that they were there is not considered a defence.
The basic principle
of the guidelines is to encourage voles to move away temporarily
from the area you need to work on. The best way to do this is to
only work on only one side of the bank with the other providing
take place in the autumn (September-October) when voles are not
breeding and before the pressures of winter are upon them. Vegetation
on the bank you intend to work from should be striped back to bare
earth. You should wait for some re-growth and then clear again.
This will give the voles time to re-locate before dredging work
It will be necessary
to conduct a survey for the presence of voles before beginning work.
They are best detected by their small burrows, which can be up to
two metres away from the water, piles of droppings (latrines) and
vole laws (clipped vegetation often at the water’s edge. NE
will advise on groups qualified to carry out the survey.
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