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North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan
Water Vole Arvicola terrestris
1 Current status
The water vole is found throughout Britain but is confined mainly to lowland areas near water. Once common and widespread, it has suffered a severe decline in both numbers and distribution. A national survey in 1996-98 estimated an 89% loss since 1939, with a projected 94% loss by 2000.
The British population is estimated to have declined by 88% over the seven year period between the two national surveys of 1989-90 and 1996-98.
The Water Vole is a Priority Species in the UK BAP because of its declining population.
The national survey of 1989-90 located water voles at 75% of Merseyside sites. A 1999-2000 survey found water voles present in 53% of all suitable North Merseyside locations. Liverpool has little suitable habitat for water voles, whereas 75% of sites in St Helens were positive. In Knowsley, Sefton and St. Helens water voles are relatively common on canals, rivers, brooks and ditches. It appears that North Merseyside, together with neighbouring areas, remains a stronghold for water voles. If they are declining locally, it is almost certainly at a much slower rate than nationally.