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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2005, 11:07 GMT
Plea to save threatened mammals
A water vole
The water vole population has been in decline in the UK since the 1900s
Farmers and landowners in Yorkshire and the Humber region are being urged to do their bit to help save the water vole.

The animals are the fastest-declining mammal in the country, primarily as a result of a loss of riverside habitats due to more intensive land use.

The Environment Agency and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are now offering grants to farmers to manage their land and preserve or improve wildlife habitats.

Water voles tend to live in streams, ditches and ponds on agricultural land.

Sylvia Jay from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: "We know from practical experience that when a group of landowners in the same area all take action for water voles it really does have a positive impact on the population."

Although once a common sight in the countryside, their population has been in decline since the 1900s and studies have predicted they will become extinct in the UK by 2012 if more is not done to protect the species.

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