Cornwall Water Vole Reintroduction

The once common water vole (Arvicola amphibius) is believed to be Britain’s fastest declining mammal. It is estimated that their population has declined by an astonishing 97%, leaving a surviving population of just 1.2 million.

That‘s why Westland Countryside Stewards took on the monumental task of restoring the water vole to back into their natural habit in Cornwall, where they were believed to be completely extinct. Through our hard work and dedication, we successfully restored the water vole population into the Bude river catchment, where they continue to thrive.

Read on to discover how we turned the tide on the water vole‘s decline and find out how you can help us continue our journey of restoring Cornwall‘s water vole population to their former glory.


The Water Vole Reintroduction Project aims to restore a complete water vole breeding population in Cornwall, which has been impacted by mink predation and habitat destruction. WCS is undertaking this task by reintroducing the species into the Bude river catchment.

Phase One: First Water Voles Released

In June 2013, 100 water voles were reintroduced into the Bude river catchment of North Cornwall, marking the first steps in restoring this endangered species back into the county.

Phase Two: Supporting Water Vole Release

On 18th September 2013, a further 177 water voles were released into the Neet river catchment. The voles were placed in family or mixed sex groups in wooden release cages positioned along the river bank, which provided a haven as they explored their new home.

Phase Three: Programme of events

In 2014, we held an information talk to raise awareness for our water vole conservation project. With the help of the local community, we conducted water vole surveys and released two more additional groups of water voles, bringing the total number in the Bude catchment to 550. Through education and engagement, we hope to protect and preserve the future of this incredible species.

Information and Downloads

Information and downloads regarding our water vole release project

Cornwall Mink Initiative

Through regular mink monitoring, the project has been able to protect the species from potential destruction and guarantee a thriving water vole population for the future.

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