£135,000 spent by the Environment Agency to move 55 water
voles before they dredged 8km sections of the rivers Parrett
and Tone has caught the headlines recently.
Voles are a protected species and disturbing their habitat would
be an offence. Dredging water courses on the Somerset Moors
and Levels is essential to prevent floods, and
so there is an obvious impasse.
American Mink into the environment is largely responsible for the
reduction in Water Vole numbers by 90% in the last ten years but
dredging is a threat to the remaining population.
is needed is a sensible strategy that can be applied to Somerset.
Water Vole populations are higher in small rhynes and ditches rather
large water courses like the Parrett and Tone.
only seem able to mover themselves short distances and laterally
down the water course. They will not move across fields and into
neighbouring ditches. One suggestion is that only small sections
are dredged at one time but studies suggest that it takes the voles
longer than one year to repopulate dredged banks and by that time
the water course will need dredging again.
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