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Yorkshire Water to release further 100 water voles in Nidderdale AONB

The second phase of Yorkshire Water’s project to protect the endangered water vole will see a further 100 released at Timble Ings Woods in Nidderdale from 8 June.

Water voles remain one of the fastest declining mammals in Britain, losing 97% of their former geographical range, and are identified as a key species for conservation in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Surveys of the area suggest the 100 released in September 2020 have become established in the woodland, with feeding signs, latrines (faeces) and burrows all present. These have been spotted up to 500m from the original release site, indicating the water voles are settling into their new habitat.

The project forms part of Yorkshire Water’s Water Works for Wildlife initiative, which will see £1.6m invested in 15 sites across Yorkshire, in a bid to boost biodiversity, enhance habitats, benefit wildlife and engage local communities.

Lee Pitcher, head of partnerships at Yorkshire Water, said: “We’re pleased to see evidence the water voles we released in September have settled into their habitat, with piles of nibbled grass and stems, as well as droppings spotted recently. Now they are established, we’re now moving onto the next stage – a second release in the area to further boost the population.

“We also have plans in place to extend the habitat available for the water voles later this year, with new ponds set to be created, which will allow the population to continue to expand and take advantage of the perfect habitat Timble Ings Woods provides these creatures.

“We’re committed to ensuring our land protects the management of water, but also benefits the environment by delivering exceptional land for the people of Yorkshire. We’ve created the Water Works for Wildlife initiative to carry out projects that benefit Yorkshire’s land and wildlife. A number of sites and projects have already been identified and work is underway to invest £1.6m across the region.”

Visitors to Timble Ings Woods should stay on the paths and keep dogs on a lead away from the ponds and watercourses as water vole populations are very sensitive to disturbance.