Water Vole Surveys
Water vole receive different levels of protection across the UK. In Scotland it is only an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to a water vole burrow; and disturb a water vole whilst it is occupying its burrow. In England and Wales, water vole are also protected against intentional killing, injuring, or capture.
Water vole remain widely distributed across the UK despite major declines in populations during the late 20th Century which saw the complete loss of the species in some areas such as the Scottish Borders. In other areas, populations are very fragile and vulnerable to extinction. In Scotland most of the best populations are in the uplands, as the species is now rare or absent in most lowland areas. An exception to this general rule, is the western Central Belt where strong populations occur in post-industrial landscapes and suburban areas. Unusually in parts of eastern Glasgow water vole have adopted a terrestrial lifestyle with animals living a mainly underground existence well away from open water feeding on roots and rhizomes.
Water vole field signs can be difficult to find and interpret, with some previously accepted identification criteria relating to feeding remains having been discredited. It is good practice to find a variety of field signs before confirming presence or absence on a site. Although water vole are absent from many areas, if you have significant areas of wetland (ponds, watercourses, marshland) on your site and there is likely to be development within or close proximity to these wetlands, then a water vole survey is likely to be required.
Reuben has a considerable amount of experience in water vole surveying and is familiar with the lowland and upland habitats where they are found.