Kielder Water & Forest Park to reintroduce water voles

Water vole Water voles are legally protected in Britain

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An endangered species is set to return to a Northumberland forest more than 30 years after it was wiped out.

Conservationists at Kielder Water & Forest Park plan to reintroduce water voles to the area after they disappeared.

The animals have not been spotted in the area since the 1970s.

Forestry Commission ecologist Tom Dearnley said they were "extremely keen" to see the project go ahead at Kielder.

Mr Dearnley said: "Areas like Kielder Burn and the North Tyne are good water vole habitats so we have a two-part plan which will hopefully see them return to former haunts.

"First we need to establish whether any mink remain as this was the reason for their previous decline.

"Water voles have suffered big declines across England, so returning them to the forest is something we are extremely keen to see happen."

Mink numbers at Kielder are now thought to be very low with few being spotted by rangers in recent years.

Steve Lowe, from the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said a similar project had been carried out in the Cairngorms, which saw the water vole making an "impressive comeback".

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