England protects voles, other endangered species

The water vole is drowning. Populations have dropped 90% in the last 20 years, making it the "fastest declining mammal in Britain," according to The Times. To help protect the species, also known as a "water rat," England has thrown it a life-line, finally giving the vole protected status under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are also negotiating to add protections in Scotland and Wales.

It's been a rough 20 years for the vole, with construction projects and invasive species taking a mighty toll. According to The Times, "Habitat loss and predation by American mink are thought to have been the most serious threats posed to the water vole but trapping and persecution are also thought to have played a role."

Also gaining new protections are angel sharks (a favorite of sports fishermen), roman snails (much desired by "amateur cooks"), and spiny and short-snouted seahorses (both of which are caught for aquariums or traditional medicines).

The new protections takes effect on April 6.

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