Species Profile

Woodland Vole

Scientific Name: Microtus pinetorum
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Ontario, Quebec
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Woodland Vole

Woodland Vole Photo 1
Woodland Vole Photo 2

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Description

One of the smallest rodents in North America, the Woodland Vole weighs between 20 and 37 g. It has a stocky body with small eyes, inconspicuous ears and a short tail. The dorsal fur is chestnut coloured; the lower parts are buffy-grey.

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Distribution and Population

The Woodland Vole is found in the temperate deciduous forest zone across most of the eastern United States. The northern limit of its range is in southwestern Ontario (several localities) and extreme southern Québec (three localities). Individuals are rarely seen or captured, and no estimates of absolute density or population trends are available for Canada.

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Habitat

This vole is associated with deciduous forests in areas of soft, friable, often sandy soil beneath deep humus, where it can burrow easily.

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Biology

Woodland Voles are active year round and are capable of reproducing throughout the warm season. The gestation period is 24-25 days and litter size varies from one to four. The young are weaned at three weeks. Adults forage in runways below the litter or in deeper burrows. Their vegetarian diet consists of fruits, roots, seeds, leaves, etc. In provision for winter they usually store tubers. Their predators are mostly raptors and carnivorous mammals, such as domestic cats and dogs.

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Threats

In southeastern Canada, suitable habitat is steadily being fragmented or lost to agriculture, urbanization and industrialization. Predation by dogs and cats may be having an impact as well.

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Protection

Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date The Woodland Vole is confined to small areas of habitat and recent research suggests that these areas are being lost at a steady rate. Summary of Research/Monitoring Due to the Woodland Vole’s low population densities and its fossorial lifestyle of digging and burrowing, it cannot be monitored easily. Populations of Woodland Voles were found within the counties of Elgin, Kent, and Haldimand-Norfold during inventories conducted in 1986. However, voles were not located during surveys within Walpole Island, Wellington County, and the Waterloo region in 1986, or within the Hamilton-Wentworth municipality in 1991. Summary of Recovery Activities Conservation land agreements are being developed by government agencies with private land owners which will secure Woodland Vole habitat from development. The Ontario government reinstated Ontario’s Managed Forest Tax Rebate Program to protect and enhance woodlands. URLs Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Riskhttp://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&lang=&id=286 Natural Resources Canada: Forest-Dwelling Species at Riskwww.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/sof/sof98/spart4_e.html

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

5 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Woodland Vole Microtus pinetorum in Canada (2011)

    The Woodland Vole (Microtus pinetorum) is a small vole with an average body mass of 26 g and a length of about 120 mm. Its short tail makes up less than 20% of the length. Woodland Voles are adapted for fossorial (underground) living; they have thick short fur and their eyes, ears and tails are relatively small. Although colouration varies, they are generally dark chestnut dorsally and light grey underneath. Woodland Voles are considered pests in orchards in the US. They reach the northernmost edge of their range in Canada.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Woodland Vole (2011)

    This small, rare mammal has a Canadian range restricted to highly fragmented areas of southern Ontario and southern Quebec.  However, a lack of adequate monitoring effort and quantification of threats made the re-assessment of this species difficult. There is no evidence to suggest its status has changed since it was last assessed.  Threats appear to be limited and not imminent or increasing. 

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Woodland Vole (Microtus pinetorum) in Canada (2015)

    The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister under SARA for the Woodland Vole and has prepared this management plan as per section 65 of SARA. To the extent possible it has been prepared in cooperation with the provinces of Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) and Quebec (Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec).

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 17, 2017