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Last Updated: Friday June 18 2010 06:47 GMT

Endangered voles make a comeback

Water vole

There's great news for water voles as the endangered creatures appear to be making a comeback in parts of the UK.

Numbers of water voles have dropped by 90 per cent in recent years because they are killed by mink, and their river bank homes are disappearing.

But now a survey has shown there are more than 30 'water vole hotspots' where the creatures are fighting back.

However, animal experts have warned that there's a "long way to go" until populations are back to normal.

Water voles are so endangered that they have been given full legal protection - which means it's a crime to hurt or kill one, or to disturb where they live.

Water vole facts
Water vole
Live in the banks of ditches, dykes, slow moving rivers and streams and grasslands
Live for two years
Male voles can swim for 130m, females for 70m
They are 12-20cm long and weigh 20g-320g
Are hunted by American minks, stoats, owls, herons, large fish, foxes and cats

The animals are now doing well in places like Yorkshire, the Pennine moorlands and Somerset.

But they are extinct in Cornwall, and almost extinct in Devon.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "Water voles are doing really well in some areas, but it is clear that there is still a long way to go before water vole numbers return to healthy levels."