Second release of water voles is under way in Kielder area

One of the water voles. Picture by Lyle McCalmot
One of the water voles. Picture by Lyle McCalmot

The Kielder Water Vole Partnership has released an additional 255 voles into two further sites in the vast 650 square km area.

It follows the successful release of more than 300 water voles into Kielder Forest in June following a 30-year absence.

This release is part of Restoring Ratty, a partnership project delivered by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Forestry Commission and Tyne Rivers Trust, aimed at the reintroduction of a much-loved British species – known as Ratty in Kenneth Grahame’s classic Wind in the Willows – to the Kielder Water & Forest Park area.

The project is supported thanks to money raised from National Lottery players through a grant of £421,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

As with the previous release, the aim is to restore populations of this endangered mammal to the Kielder catchment of the North Tyne with a view to their eventual spread throughout western reaches of Northumberland.

This second release this month is of voles bred from a population captured in the North Pennines during September 2016 which then went on to spend the winter at the Derek Gow Consultancy in Devon (specialists in water vole conservancy) where they have been cared for and bred to provide large numbers of young.

This release of 255 will boost the water vole population and increase their genetic diversity.

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