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Public urged to report water vole sightings
Water voles were once a common site along UK riverbanks and waterways.
Annual National Water Vole Monitoring Programme returns

A conservation charity is calling on the British public to help survey endangered water voles.

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has made the plea as part of its annual National Water Vole Monitoring Programme (NWVMP). Now in its fourth year, the programme was launched in response to a severe decline in water vole populations.

Emily Thomas, key species, monitoring and data officer at PTES, said that volunteers are crucial to helping the charity collect robust data about the state of water voles across the UK.

“We use the data gathered to monitor population trends year on year, which in turn help guide our conservation efforts and inform us where action is needed most,” she said.

Water voles were once a common site along UK riverbanks and waterways. But thanks to habitat loss, river pollution and American mink, the species has seen a dramatic fall in numbers.

More than 200 volunteers have taken part in the NWVMP since its launch in 2015. Last year, participants collected data from 222 sites across England, Scotland and Wales, of which 82 showed signs of water voles.

This year, volunteers will be asked to survey one of nearly 900 sites across the UK, recording all sightings and signs of the species along a 500m length of a riverbank. The recording only needs to take place once during the course of the programme (15 April-15 June) and no prior experience is required.

To find out more about the programme and how you can get involved, visit ptes.org/get-involved/surveys/countryside-2/national-water-vole-monitoring-programme/ 

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New app to improve street dog welfare

News Story 1
 A new free app will support vital work in clinics caring for stray dogs around the world, experts say. Created by the University of Edinburgh, the tool allows vets to track the wellbeing of dogs going through catch-neuter-return schemes, which are common in countries with large numbers of strays.

Vets say the welfare of individual dogs can be overlooked during the process of capture, transport or surgery. The app, piloted across Asia and Africa, helps staff to monitor welfare, spot signs of distress and develop strategies to improve care. It was launched at BSAVA Congress on Friday 6 April.  

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Farm to fork traceability championed in new service

Defra has created a new information service to offer farm to fork traceability when the UK leaves the EU. The Livestock Information Service, which is set to be operational from 2019, will identify and track animal movements via electronic IDs, meaning the industry and government are better placed to respond in the event of a disease outbreak.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “This service will be instrumental in improving traceability and providing guarantees to consumers about the origin of their food. NFU President Minette Batters, among others, has helped lead the way on this, showing how it will drive a progressive and vibrant livestock industry once we leave the EU.”