Wildlife Licensing - Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris)
The water vole is the largest of the British voles, it has suffered a significant decline, especially in the 1990s. Water voles are listed in the Species Action Framework for conservation action to address threats from habitat loss and, in particular, from predation by American mink, an invasive non-native species.
Water voles are listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) only in respect of Section 9(4). This means that the water vole's places of shelter or protection are protected, but not the animals themselves. The current partial protection afforded to the water vole is under review and may be extended in future.
It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly:
- Damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which water voles use for shelter or protection, and
- Disturb water voles while they are using such a place
There are certain limited situations where specific statutory defences against prosecution can apply, these include:
- The unlawful act was the incidental result of a lawful operation or other activity; and that
- The person who carried out the lawful operation or other activity took reasonable precautions for the purpose avoiding carrying out the unlawful act; or
- That person did not forsee, and could not reasonably have foreseen, that the unlawful act would be an incidental result of the lawful operation or other activity.
This defence applies only if the person stops causing any further unlawful actions as soon as practically possible once he or she realises they are occurring.
This list of statutory defences is not exhaustive.
A licence may be issued in certain circumstances please contact the species licencing team for more information.