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[at-l] OT: Go Voles?

Group: Water Vole Faces Extinction
Mon Oct 14, 2:50 PM ET

LONDON (AP) - A furry rodent, the water vole, is being pushed toward extinction by people who
mistake the increasingly rare animal for a rat, a wildlife group said Monday.

Water voles, the fastest declining mammal in Britain, are often mistaken for vermin and killed by
homeowners, developers and pest control workers, said Simon Lyster, director-general of The
Wildlife Trusts, which has launched a public education campaign to protect the animal.

"The key to overcoming the problem is to build awareness of the characteristics of a water vole,"
Lyster said.

Conservation groups have also asked the government to declare the water vole a protected animal
under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it illegal to kill them. The government is
expected to announce its decision later in the fall.

Mistaken identity isn't the vole's only problem.

In the past 60 years, voles have lost nearly 90 percent of their riverbank habitat to development
while the animals are preyed upon by American mink, a species that became established in Britain
after escaping from fur farms.

Voles have small, hidden ears, silky brown fur, a blunt nose and a short, furry tail while rats
have larger ears, gray-grown fur, pointed noses and a scaly tail. Water voles feed on vegetation,
while rats are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of foods.

David Addleton
vocate atque non vocate deus aderit

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