Endangered water voles have returned to marshes in Scotland after a 20 year absence.
The small rodents, which are the fast declining mammal in the UK, have been spotted at RSPB Insh Marshes in Strathspey. Their return is believed to be due to work taking place to eradicate American mink from large parts of northern Scotland.
Water vole numbers have dropped by 90% in the last 40 years due to predation by mink and habitat loss. However, since 2011 the Scottish Mink Initiative has worked alongside organisations and landowners like the RSPB to eradicate mink from large parts of northern Scotland, including the Cairngorms National Park and Insh Marshes. This has allowed water voles to re-establish themselves in those areas.
The new population of water voles was discovered during a survey at the site by RSPB Officer, James Silvey, who said: “Water voles are extremely important mammals because they’re a really good sign of a healthy wetland environment. It’s great to see them returning to Strathspey and we are hopeful this population will go from strength to strength. People in the area can help protect water voles too, by looking out for them and reporting any sightings to us so we can monitor their populations.”