Protected Species | Otters & Water Voles

Often collectively referred to as riparian mammals, these two species can be found on a variety of waterways and water bodies across the UK.

At Peak Ecology we have several experienced otter and water vole surveyors; ttwo of our personnel are licensed by Scottish Natural Heritage to survey otters in Scotland. The license is required when a more intrusive survey is needed, which result in the disturbance of otters. Our staff have undertaken survey work involving these species far and wide, from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. We have experience of mitigation schemes, including habitat creation and management for both otter and water vole and have undertaken translocations of water voles and provided artificial holts for otters.

Consideration for these species is undertaken when conducting an initial Extended Phase 1 walkover survey, for example, a development project near a river or network of drains. Or perhaps when installing a new fish pass on a weir. If suitable habitat is present then we may recommended further surveys for either or both of these species.

Malcolm Ginns, our principal ecologist in the Dumfries and Galloway office is actively involved in water vole and otter research and collaborates extensively on practical conservation research with organisations such as the Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust. He is also the founder of the River Watch Project, which records and monitors riparian mammals across southern Scotland.

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Otters & Water Voles | Case Studies

Case Study 1 >>

Water Vole Translocation – Isle Of Sheppey

Water vole surveys were undertaken on a series of drains on marshland on the Isle of Sheppey, prior to a proposed development of an industrial site.  Water voles were present in the affected drains and there were also numerous other drains nearby which held good populations of this species.

Liaising with Natural England and the Environment Agency it was decided to trap the affected drains and translocate the voles to new areas. As winter was approaching voles below a certain weight were held in captivity for release in the spring into new drains which were excavated as part of the mitigation plan.

Release pens were constructed and the drains to be trapped were fenced to prevent other voles from moving in. After the trapping was complete, vegetation was strimmed down and water vole burrows were excavated by hand to make sure all voles had been captured.

Case Study 2 >>

Forestry Commission – Scotland Otter Survey – Dumbartonshire

An extensive otter survey was carried out on the shores of a number of reservoirs and along associated watercourses in Dumbartonshire prior to the formalisation of land management plans.

During the survey a number of otter signs were recorded including a high-status holt.  A detailed report illustrating the location and nature of the field evidence was prepared so that FCS could take this information into account when considering their options.