Calling All Volunteers: Be a Part of Water Vole Recovery in the Thame Catchment

November 3, 2023

RTCT have launched a water vole recovery project covering the Thame catchment. Water vole have not been recorded in the catchment for many years, lost through a combination of loss of habitat and predation by the American mink. We have a programme of activities and projects with landowners to enhance riparian habitat which will benefit this and other species, but up till now have had no resources to tackle the mink.

Earlier this year, in partnership with BBOWT on their Joining the Dots: Creating mink-free counties for water vole conservation, we received funding through Natural England’s Species Recovery Capital Grant Scheme. This will support officer time and equipment to control mink in the catchment. Partnering with BBOWT, who have a long-running water vole recovery project, enables us to take a landscape-scale approach to this work.

Mink control is an essential first step before water vole can be re-introduced and will enable us to monitor the Thame for any remnant water vole populations, alongside gathering essential data on American mink, Eurasian otter and water shrew activity, for which we have only sporadic records in the Thame.

We are working with landowners in the catchment, in particular members of the Thame Catchment Farm Cluster, to get permission to locate and access mink rafts for monitoring. But we also need volunteers to help deploy and check rafts and gather monitoring data. Our aim is to build a network of riparian mammal monitors who will be able to work with us through these early stages of the project through to the release of water voles at some point in the future (dependent on funding and the outcomes of this mink control stage) which will flourish and become part of a meta-population with water vole in surrounding counties.

If you would like to learn more about this project, and sign up as a volunteer, please sign up for one of our on-line introductory sessions:
Tuesday 21st November 2023 12 noon – 1pm
Wednesday 29th November 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Register here

If you attend one of these webinars and sign up as a volunteer, you will be eligible to attend a field training session, where we will cover all aspects of raft deployment, monitoring and trapping phases, species identification, data recording, health and safety.

We are aiming to have 65 rafts deployed along the length of the main Thame by next February so do please sign up to join this exciting project – we need you!

RTCTProject Officer Grace with a water vole

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