Volunteers go on Ratty's trail

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Volunteers are wanted to get hot on the trail of Ratty - the elusive and threatened water vole of Gloucestershire's wetlands and waterways. Teams of volunteers will soon be searching the countryside in a water vole survey aimed at developing an action plan to help save the shy creature from extinction.

About 100 miles of rivers, streams and canals are scheduled for investigation. The survey - a joint venture with the county's Wildlife Trust - is to be formally launched at Slimbridge on Wednesday. Training sessions for volunteer vole surveyors are to take place within the next few weeks at the national headquarters of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.