Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Water Vole To Get Extra Protection


The water vole is to get legal protection from being killed, injured or taken from the wild as environmentalists fight to save the creature.
Immortalised by Ratty in "The Wind In The Willows", the snubby-nosed water vole has come under threat in recent years. Developers have built on much of their wetland habitat, and they have been hunted by the increasing population of American mink.

Alastair Driver, conservation manager for the Environment Agency, told Sky News the number of water voles in the UK has declined by 90% in the last ten years. "There has been accidental poisoning and cases of kids shooting them with air rifles. Female mink can get into their burrows and eat them, and huge amounts of wetland habitat has been drained for agriculture or developed." he said.

The water vole with now be protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. It will mean it is illegal to hunt, kill or remove water voles from April 6.

A number of other species will also join the list of protected wildlife, including the roman snail and spiny seahorse. It will become an offence to damage or obstruct the short-snouted and spiny seahorses' places of shelter. The protection is already afforded to a range of creatures, including the otter and grass snake.

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