NEWS / Member / 50 first dates for Salisbury's most eligible water voles


02 SEP 2022


Ecologists at EIC member Atkins are helping to revive threatened species

A colony of water voles moved from Salisbury to Ringwood has just had a population boom with 50 new males and females moving in to make the population viable, with support from the Atkins ecology team.

Salisbury’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes have been moved to an exotic location and will meet 50 potential life mates with hopes romance will happen.

But this is more ‘Vole Island’ than ‘Love Island’. And instead of a sun-kissed location in Spain, a dozen water voles from Salisbury have been living on a farm in Ringwood for the past five months. They swapped city life for the country before construction started on the Salisbury River Park flood defence and regeneration scheme. Now everyone hopes they will find true love when they meet 50 new bachelors and bachelorettes that were bred in captivity.

The water vole population in Ringwood was severely affected by mink in the past. But with the mink population now in control, in time it is hoped the water voles will breed once they get past their territorial instincts.

Water voles are a legally protected species and also Britain’s fastest declining mammal. A small population was found during survey work for the Salisbury River Park scheme. The scheme will deliver long-term benefits through habitat improvements for city wildlife, including water voles.

Jim Girgis, associate ecologist at Atkins, said: “This translocation would enable the population to thrive in suitable habitat as well as aid in restoring key links between known populations in the Lower and Upper Avon."

“This is a really important project in terms of supporting the indigenous population of water vole in this area, which bring great benefits to the local eco-system, and it’s also another good example of ensuring the best possible outcome both for the scheme and sustainability of the local environment.”

Read more about the project at the Atkins website.