“River Custodians” are being recruited to raise the drawbridge around Anglesey and protect the island’s wildlife from a foreign invader.
Volunteers are needed for a new project organised by regeneration body Menter Môn to safeguard Anglesey’s endangered water vole from the rapacious American mink.
Without intervention, the mammal could become extinct on Anglesey and minks could also devastate the island’s wetland and wading birds.
Years of mink trapping has shown the island is still largely free of the non-native predator and Menter Môn’s initiative aims to keep it that way.
Working with communities on both sides of the Menai Strait, the 18-month project will set up a network of River Custodians to monitor river habitats, identify potential threats and undertake surveys.
Digital trail cameras will be deployed to film riverside wildlife, with the footage being shared on social media.
Feeding platforms are also being put in place so that the public can catch a glimpse of water voles, now one of the UK’s most threatened mammal species with a reported 95% decline since 1970.
Menter Môn managing director Dafydd Gruffydd said: “This project is key to the survival of the water vole on Anglesey.
“At Menter Môn we have over 20 years’ experience of working to protect native species such as the red squirrel and otter, so we are well placed to ensure this project achieves its aims.
“I would urge people to get involved – there will be something for all ages.”
River Guardians will attempt to raise awareness through guided walks, public events and training sessions.
The project will also work with local primary schools to introduce pupils to water voles.
Ian Hawkins, RSPB North Wales sites manager, added: “Menter Môn has successfully run similar programmes for the last 15 years and these have been spectacular successes.”
The £49,900 River Guardians scheme is one of several environmental projects funded by the Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme.
Other beneficiaries include:
- Flintshire (£46,831): The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust aims to improve habitats at four nature reserves near Buckley
- Wrexham (£47,916): The Second Nature project will encourage young people to maintain local green spaces through “forest husbandry”. A Recycling Hub will foster community action, such as litter picks.
- Gwynedd (£49,918): Pockets of green space are to be developed in Caernarfon’s Peblig ward. The “Cam ar y Ffordd: Peblig” project, run by Groundwork North Wales, will act as “stepping stones” for wildlife and enhance the area for residents.
- North and Mid Wales (£49,999): The Vincent Wildlife Trust aims to train new volunteers to monitor and oversee populations of native and re-introduced pine martens.
- Flintshire (£24,500): Public access at two sites in Greenfield Valley are to be enhanced in the “Pathways to the Past” project. Planned work includes a new seating area and the removal of fly-tip wast, with temporary cameras and clean-up days.
- Rhyl (£48,000): The RHYL (Recycling Helps You Live) project will educate residents to recycle more waste at five mini-recycling centres. 3D printed products will be produced from plastic waste, providing an income for future sustainability.