A FURTHER 248 water voles have been released into streams near Kielder reservoir as part of the Restoring Ratty programme.

The sixth release of water voles since June 2017, the programme has helped release a total of 1,498 the rodents.

Restoring Ratty, now in its fourth year, is a five-year partnership project between Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, and Tyne Rivers Trust.

Graham Holyoak, Restoring Ratty project officer, said: “We all sincerely hope the voles will continue breeding well and spread throughout Kielder Forest and Water Park and eventually down the North Tyne valley.”

All signs indicate that the water voles released in 2017 and 2018 are thriving. Officers have found the voles are moving away from release sites to find new territory and breed over several kilometres.