Water voles are being released at a site in Yorkshire, UK, as part of the second phase of a nature scheme to help the endangered mammals.
Some 100 water voles will be released in Timble Ings Woods in the Washburn valley, part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), from 8 June, following a release of the same number last September.
Yorkshire Water, which is running the scheme, said surveys suggest the 100 voles brought into the site last year have become established in the woodland, with feeding signs, latrines and burrows all spotted.
Evidence of water voles has been found up to 500 metres from the original release site, suggesting they are settling into their new home, the water company said.
The aquatic mammals, immortalised as Ratty in the classic children’s book The Wind in the Willows, live along slow-flowing rivers, ditches, dykes and lakes with plenty of vegetation, making extensive burrows in the banks.
They have suffered steep declines in recent years as a result of being preyed on by invasive American mink, as well as loss and degradation of their habitat and water pollution, and have been identified as akey species for conservationin the Nidderdale area.