In 2000 a survey revealed that Essex had lost an astonishing 94% of its WaterVoles.
By 2006 the fate of Water Voles in the county looked even bleaker. They were said to be ‘Britain’s fastest declining mammal’, they had disappeared from more than 90% of the sites they had occupied during the first half of the 20th century.
The last remaining colonies were being picked off by invasive NorthAmerican Mink. It appeared that the Voles were destined to share the fate of the Red Squirrel.
Essex Wildlife Trust’s Essex Water Vole Recovery Project, launched in 2007, sought to tackle the decline of the Vole, not by simply protecting the final strongholds but by changing the factors responsible for their decline across the countryside as a whole.
The project had two obvious targets: to tackle the predation of Water Voles (and other native species) by invasive North American Mink and to improve the quality and quantity of existing habitat.
Five years on and surveys recently carried out in brooks and streams in the Tendring and Colchester areas have revealed identical stories: Water Voles are back at sites from which they have been absent for years.