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Projects - Trossachs water vole reintroduction trial - Aberfoyle
The Trossachs water vole project is a partnership between the Forestry Commision the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Derek Gow Consultancy ltd.  Partial funding for the project was made available from Scottish Natural Heritage. In 2006 a series of development projects on the outskirts of Glasgow had to remove water voles from their footprints. As there was no adjacent capacity to re-home the water voles in their surrounding environment a receptor site for a large scale reintroduction trial was sought. The 16 mile long valley of the Duchray river above Aberfoyle had undergone a significant process of habitat improvement as a result of the Forest Water Framework Directive. What had formerly been a densely planted commercial conifer forest had been transformed by the complete removal of tree cover to a depth of over 20 meters from the waters edge to allow semi emergent vegetation to re-establish. This process was coupled with an extensive programme of lakes, pool and meander creation.  Although water voles had been previously recorded in 'Shady Glen' on the side of loch Lomond and their old burrow systems were still visible in the peat banks of the Duchray there were no contemporary field signs of their presence. A programme of mink eradication was devised and delivered by the Forestry Commissions field staff and in 2008 the first 350 water voles were reintroduced. The captured voles were captive bred for three years to provide a substantial numerical and genetic base stock for release.  Approximately a
third of the released population was black with a high variability in colour types amongst the other individuals involved. Releases were undertaken in May 2008, August 2008, May 2009 and August 2009. After this time the remaining individuals were transferred to the Highland wildlife park for overwintering and release in 2010. All of the water voles were micro-chipped and recapture surveys identified wild bred progeny by the end of 2008. The valley of the Duchray is steep sided with only a single inflow and outflow. It is believed that the water vole population has now expanded to colonise all the suitable habitat types within the valley.  The reintroduced water vole population has now entered a monitoring and natural expansion phase.  This water vole project has been highly successful due to the consistent and hard work of the Forestry Commission Staff who have dedicated people and resources for mink control, habitat recreation, survey and research to the water vole project. Water voles are now found throughout the release sites and beyond. Links  - click on the logos below
Specialists in water vole ecology