AFTER years of national decline, a pioneering scheme has been launched in the North York Moors National Park to help revive the population of water voles.

Some success has already been achieved say wildlife officers and hopes are high that the famous 'Ratty' character from Kenneth Grahame's legendary 1908 classic "Wind in the Willows, will see numbers rise after dropping by 90 per cent nationally.

Park leaders say people can help by monitoring survivors. Water Voles were virtually wiped out by aggressive non native mink which escaped from fur farms, and changes in agriculture and farming. Park officer Sam Newton said the project This Exploited Land aims to help save the voles alongside other species. "We already have a good picture of where surviving populations of water voles are, so the initial step is to try and understand numbers and movements of mink. From this we can work out how we can secure and hopefully expand our water vole population."

The work is being done with local estates and the forestry commission,