Vole Patrol – in search of London’s smallest mammals

Tuesday 6th October 2015

Vole Patrol - wood mouse by Margaret HollandVole Patrol - wood mouse by Margaret Holland

London Wildlife Trust is launching a new project called Vole Patrol to investigate how small mammals such as mice, shrew and vole are faring in west London.

Vole Patrol aims to get a clearer picture of how small mammals are doing in west London, as well as raising their profile so that they are no longer forgotten or overlooked.

Anecdotal evidence suggests these tiny, largely nocturnal creatures may be in decline in their woodland habitats, which in turn could have serious knock-on effects for predator species such as stoat, weasel, owls and other birds of prey.

The project has been successful in securing a grant of £97,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), made possible by National Lottery players.

Vole Patrol volunteers will be trained in specialist small mammal monitoring techniques to help the Trust survey and monitor populations of mice (wood mouse and yellow-necked mouse), shrew (common shrew and pygmy shrew) and vole (bank vole) at eight woodland habitats in west London.

None of these species are currently listed as conservation priorities, although shrews are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. However, urban development is putting increasing pressure on their habitats, and other factors, such as predation from domestic pets, may also be impacting on their numbers. This project aims to get a clearer picture of how these small mammals are doing in west London, as well as raising their profile so that they are no longer forgotten or overlooked.

Andy Willmore, the Trust's Regional Development Manager for west London said: "Vole Patrol is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about small woodland mammals in west London. As well as recruiting a project officer and training 25 volunteers to monitor species of small mammals across eight sites, four of which are London Wildlife Trust nature reserves, we will also be putting on special events in Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing to tell local people more about these elusive but important animals."

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: "While small and rarely seen in daylight, the subjects of Vole Patrol are incredibly important in London's wildlife kingdom so we're delighted to support this project which will raise their profile and create a team of skilled volunteers to ensure they have a bright future."

London Wildlife Trust   Heriitage Lottery Fund

More information on Vole Patrol

For more information contact Andy Willmore on awillmore@wildlondon.org.uk

We are currently advertising for a project officer to coordinate the Vole Patrol project. See www.wildlondon.org.uk/jobs/

Vole Patrol will survey for small mammals at the following sites:

  1. Gunnersbury Triangle / Ealing/Hounslow
  2. Denham Lock Wood / Hillingdon
  3. Gutteridge Wood / Hillingdon
  4. Ten Acre Wood / Hillingdon
  5. Ruislip Woods / Hillingdon
  6. Perivale Wood / Ealing
  7. Tentelow Wood / Ealing
  8. Long Wood / Ealing

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF): Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

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