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article imageConservation project for water voles begins

By Tim Sandle     Mar 23, 2013 in Environment
Conservationists in the UK are building a series of miniature ramps to allow water voles, that are currently restricted to a pond, to get into the Grand Union Canal in London.
The conservation project is taking place in London and is to allow water voles a route to where they can enjoy man-made, vegetation-filled floating islands, according to BBC News.
Water voles are semi-aquatic rodents. They are sometimes called the water rats. Water voles have rounder noses than rats, deep brown fur, chubby faces and short fuzzy ears; unlike rats their tails, paws and ears are covered with hair.
This new project, coordinated by the Canal and River Trust, is part of an attempt to slow the decline in water voles in the U.K. over the past few decades. The UK water vole population has fallen by over 90% since the 1970s, largely as a result of habitat loss and predation by mink, according to a statement from the society..
The project involves installing wooden ramps for the benefit of a small colony living by a pond in Ealing, west London. Currently, tall steel sheets along the edge of the adjacent Grand Union Canal prevent the voles from accessing the waterway.
Leela O'Dea, an ecologist for the Canal and River Trust, is quoted by Wired as saying the following about the initiative: "The slow moving waters of our canals and rivers can be ideal homes but colonies are often isolated. This work makes a massive difference as we can extend the water voles' territory, enhance the areas where they live, and play our part in conserving and restoring their populations."
If the scheme is successful, similar ramps could eventually be used across the country in an attempt to encourage the mixing of isolated populations.
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