Vole patrol scanning the Manhood Peninsula waterways for furry friends

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The Vole Patrol were out in force across the Manhood Peninsula to help with scientific research on water voles.

A group from the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group set out to help with research being carried out at the University of Brighton.

The creature has its only native population living on the peninsula.

The weather was wet and the towpath muddy but 15 individual water voles were caught, weighed, sexed, hair samples taken and micro-chipped for future reference.

The team had a huge amount of fun helping with this research and as well as seeing trapped water voles close up, they also saw many individuals swimming across the canal and on the banks.

The work was to help PhD student Rowenna Baker, who is looking at how water voles spread out in different habitats and how that affects the genetic diversity of the population. In order to undertake work on this vary rare mammal, Rowenna has a licence issued by Natural England.

Jane Reeve started work, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for three years, as the wildlife group’s water vole project officer.

The main aim during the first year is to establish the Vole Patrol, a group of trained volunteers which carries out surveys for the mammal and sets out to improve the ditches where they live so as to sustain its population on the peninsula. If anyone would like to join the water vole patrol then please contact the group or visit the MWHG website for more information at www.mwhg.org.uk