THE tiny creature that inspired Ratty from Wind in the Willows is in danger of becoming extinct in Sussex.
The Romney Marsh area, near Rye, is a strong hold for the small mammal but Sussex Wildlife Trust believes there is still a very real threat to water voles dwindling into oblivion in our county.
Voles remain vulnerable to further decline and extinctions due to long-term habitat loss, mink predation and extreme weather events, including last year’s spring drought.
Fran Southgate the Sussex Wildlife Trust Wetland Officer said: “The once common water vole has declined to near extinction in Sussex. Concerted conservation efforts over the past ten years have prevented them from disappearing completely. However, despite the fragility of local populations, they have somewhat ‘fallen off the radar’ as a species in need of funding and government support at both a local and national level.
“More than anything, they have suffered from the continuing decline of wetlands in Sussex, which are disappearing rapidly under development and drainage schemes.
“ The exacerbation of flooding and droughts caused by the urbanisation of the landscape has also played havoc with their ability to survive.
“There are some fantastic initiatives in Sussex which are dedicated to preventing these enigmatic creatures from disappearing but there is no room for complacency.”