Reintroducing water voles to the Gwent Levels

Water vole swimming at Magor Marsh

Lee Parsons

By the early 2000s, water voles had disappeared from the Gwent Levels; a result of decades’ long habitat loss and predation by non-native American Mink.

Urgent action was needed to bring them back and thanks to the hard work of GWT staff, volunteers, landowners and partners, we are able to celebrate their return and be hopeful that they will reclaim their rightful place across Gwent’s wetlands.

The first step in our plan to return water voles to the Gwent Levels was to establish a new population of water voles that would, in time, spread out across the Levels.

Magor Marsh SSSI

Our Magor Marsh reserve, with its plentiful banks and wetland plants, was the perfect home for this new population but first we needed to remove one of the biggest threats to water voles – the mink.


Jeff Chard

American Mink became established in the UK in the 1950's when they escaped from fur farms. A generalist predator, they feed on many of our native species but water voles are especially vulnerable to them.  Able to hunt them on land and in the water, mink are also small enough to enter water vole burrows so they have no means of escape.

By trapping and humanely killing the mink on the reserve, we were able to release over 200 water voles on to the reserve in 2012 and we have been monitoring them closely ever since as our work to return water voles across the Gwent Levels continues.

Watch the video below to see our water voles reintroduction programme in action.

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