Water voles in Suffolk
Suffolk has a great resource of potential water vole habitat with river valleys, coastal grazing marshes, ponds, ditches, lakes, fens, and reedbeds. From 2003 to 2007 every river catchment in the county was surveyed for water vole, and the results showed a dramatic decline in water vole populations since the previous county survey done in 1998. Habitat loss and predation by American mink (an invasive non-native species) were believed to be the main causes of this decline.
After this alarming discovery, Suffolk Wildlife Trust helped to slow this decline by working with landowners to improve management practices to protect and enhance water vole habitat and to ensure all protected species legislation is followed. Suffolk Wildlife Trust also set up a mink control programme throughout the county to reduce predation on water vole. This work was part of the Water for Wildlife Project, supported by Anglian Water, Essex & Suffolk Water, and the Environment Agency.
The good news is that further surveys in 2007-2010 confirmed that with mink control in place, water voles have made a recovery throughout our water courses and are once again a feature of river habitat in Suffolk. Water voles are an endangered species in the UK and in Suffolk there is still more to be done to help protect water voles.
We continue to support landowners to undertake mink control on their land, provide landowners with appropriate habitat management advice, and deliver habitat restoration projects that provide the vital habitat needed for water voles and other wetland wildlife to thrive. Find out more about our work on rivers here.
Water vole ecology and legislation
For more information about water voles, including what you can do to help them, please read the UK water vole factsheet.
Water vole are protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) (as amended). It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take a water vole; possess or control a live or dead water vole; intentionally damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which water voles use for shelter or protection, or disturb water voles using such a place.
What do if you see a water vole
If you are lucky enough to spot a water vole in Suffolk, please submit your records to the Suffolk Biological Records Centre.
Suffolk mink control programme
Suffolk Wildlife Trust is now working with the Water Life Recovery East regional mink eradication project, which is a partnership project made up of different organisations in East Anglia working towards the eradication of mink from the region. Together with our partners in the project, we are supporting landowners to control mink on their land by providing smart mink raft equipment, like that shown in the photo below.