Water voles are fully protected in the UK under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Under this Act it is illegal to:
- intentionally capture, kill or injure water voles;
- directly or indirectly damage, destroy or block access to their places of shelter or protection; and
- directly or indirectly disturb them in a place of shelter or protection.
A presence/absence survey for water voles will determine whether a site is being used by this species by looking for activity signs comprising:
- grazing ‘lawns’;
- feeding remains; and
- prints and trails through bankside habitats.
The optimal survey for water vole presence/absence surveys is from late March through to October as this corresponds with their breeding season, which results in species becoming highly active within their habitats and thus leaving numerous field signs such as those listed above.