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Balham primary school petition to save water voles hits 50,000 signatures

A Balham primary school’s popular petition to rescue water voles from extinction will be considered by Wandsworth Council, after determined campaigning from Year 5 students.

The Vole Vow petition, started by children from Rutherford House school in Wandsworth and inspired by reading about Ratty from The Wind in the Willows, has amassed 50,000 signatures on Change.org.

Two councillors will collect the petition from the school today to present it at the Wandsworth Council meeting next Wednesday.

The children wrote very persuasive letters to the Mayor of London, MPs and their local councillors, outlining the change they want to see.

SAVE THE WATER VOLES: One Balham pupil’s letter to Sadiq Khan

The aquatic animal has been declining rapidly so numbers have dropped by 94% in the last 50 years and they are expected to be extinct by 2031.

A Year Five teacher at the school, Mark Needham, said: “The petition has really taken off and the children are mind-blown by the fact that they’ve been able to do this. It’s the power of their words that’s made a difference.

“We’ve got really dedicated children at this school and they really want this to be a success.

“We’ve been lucky to receive a hand-written letter back from the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth Council. It was clear that we had touched her because she was talking about how she fondly remembered Ratty from when she read The Wind in the Willows when she was younger.”

Habitat loss caused by challelizing rivers and water pollution, and the over-population of American mink in the UK are some of problems killing off water voles.

A visit from Citizen Zoo about their campaign to reintroduce water voles to the Holtville River, and the children seeing dried-up habitats in Tooting Pond also brought the issue home for the children.

They are calling for a similar water vole introduction project on the River Wandel in Wandsworth.

The Water Vole Vow petition asks the council to work with landowners and provide grants to return stretches of river banks to a wild state and prepare habitat by planting flora for food and shelter and protect rivers from pollution.

It calls for the introduction of water vole colonies and monitoring and controlling the American mink.

AFC Wimbledon football club has even supported the campaign on Twitter.

One pupil at the school said: “If we made this mess then we need to fix it. We can’t just be standing there doing nothing.”

It seems the plight of our environment is in very good, resolute hands.

You can visit or sign the petition here.

Featured image credit: Peter Trimming via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license

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