An eight-year-old girl from County Durham has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to appeal for help in saving the water vole.
Wildlife enthusiast Beth Hartman-Andersen, from Bishop Auckland, compiled her ten reasons for help in saving the mammal, which is suffering from a significant decline in population, after attending a conservation event run by Durham Wildlife Trust.
During the event, Beth met Kirsty Pollard, who is working across Northumberland, Durham and Tees Valley Wildlife Trust regions to develop a project called Naturally Native, and was so inspired by what she heard that she felt compelled to take action.
Beth said: “I have always loved wildlife and am hoping that when I grow up I can work with animals. I really enjoyed the water vole event with Kirsty. We learnt all about the species and made some fun vole masks. I was shocked when Kirsty explained that water voles will disappear altogether if we don’t do something to stop it and so I wanted to do something to help Kirsty’s campaign to save them. I hope that Mr Johnson reads my letter and that he helps in the campaign to save them.”
Laura Younger, Beth’s mum, said: “When Beth got home from the event she immediately began researching the water voles. Kirsty had explained during the event that, although once common across the North East, water voles are now Britain’s fastest declining mammal and that without action they will disappear altogether so Beth decided to compile her top ten reasons for making sure that doesn’t happen and send them to parliament. I am so proud of her actions and I hope that the letter helps in the campaign to save them.”
Kirsty Pollard, Naturally Native Development Manager, said: “I was really touched when Beth’s mum got in contact to let me know about her letter. Water voles face a desp
erate future if we don’t take action now: their habitat is becoming more and more reduced and fragmented leaving populations vulnerable to being wiped out by American mink, a non-native predator that they struggle to escape from.
“Our Naturally Native project is researching the current locations of both water voles and American mink so we can understand clearly the situation we face in the North East and this information will form the basis of a plan to try to save the population in this area but more needs to be done to secure the future for the water vole. Beth’s letter is a great opportunity to widen the reach of our campaign and I look forward to hearing if she receives a response.”
The Naturally Native project runs regular events to encourage people to get involved in surveying and identifying water voles and other wetland mammals, details of which can be found on the Durham Wildlife Trust website (www.durhamwt.co.uk).
Beth’s letter in full:
Dear Prime Minister, My name is Beth and I am 8 years old. I met Kirsty a few days ago from Durham Wildlife Trust who was telling us about their campaign to save the watervoles. We were learning about watervoles and their battle for survival. I have always loved wildlife and would like to work with animals when I am older, which is why I was very happy Kirsty asked if I would like to write a letter as part of her campaign. Below are 10 reasons why I love watervoles and why we should help the watervoles.
1) I want to save watervoles because they’re cute and I’ve never seen one before in the wild. If they become extinct I’ll never be able to see one.
2) The American Mink is beautiful but they should not be in this country and they are one of the main reasons why watervoles are endangered as they are killing so many. Kirsty taught me that the watervoles can escape from their natural predators such as otters, but they cannot escape from the American Minks, which is why so many are being killed.
3) Watervoles are losing their habitats and food.
4) We are building houses and walls by rivers, which is destroying their habitats.
5) If watervoles go extinct I’ll be very sad as we will lose an important character from the British countryside.
6) Watervoles create burrow networks for everyday use. This dries the surrounding wet soil to help plant growth, creating habitats for other animals.
7) I love wildlife and I think we should all give wildlife a chance of survival.
8) Watervoles are recorded to eat 227 different species of plant, (which I think is a cool fact!)
9) I don’t want to see Ratty from ‘The Wind in The Willows’ disappear.
10) Sadly they are now the most endangered species in the UK. Nearly 90% have disappeared in the last 7 years.
I really hope you can help these beautiful mammals.
Naturally Native is a partnership project between Durham, Northumberland and Tees Valley Wildlife Trusts and is funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.