Posted 14th Jun 2018 by Peter Byrne
New research has revealed one in five UK mammals are facing a threat to their survival, including the red squirrel, wildcat and grey long-eared bat
A total of 12 species have been put on the UK's first 'red list' for wild mammals in the country.
The report blamed factors such as climate change, habitat loss, pesticides and disease. The hedgehog and water vole have also seen their populations decline, with a near 70 per cent dip in the past 20 years.
However, there is some good news for certain species. The badger, otter, pine marten and polecat have all enjoyed an increase in their populations, while their geographical ranges have spread too.
The report, described as the first comprehensive review of Britain's mammal population to be conducted in 20 years, saw researchers look at over 1.5 million individual biological records of the 58 wild mammals.
The researchers then looked at any changes their numbers, their range, trends, and what their future prospects looked like.
The species were then ranked using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The highest threat category is 'critically endangered', with three species given this status - the wildcat, the greater mouse-eared bat, and the black rat.
Following on from this is the 'endangered' category - the species on this list include the hedgehog, hazel dormouse, Orkney vole, serotine bat and barbastelle bat.
Professor Fiona Mathews, the chairwoman of the Mammal Society, commented: "This is the first time anyone has looked across all species for about 20 years."
"Now obviously we're living in a country that's changing enormously - we're building new homes, new roads, new railways, agriculture's changing - so it's really important we have up to date information, so we can plan how we're going to conserve British wildlife."
The species that had an increase in number included the otter, pine marten, polecat and badger, along with the red and roe deer, the greater and lesser horseshoe bat, and the beaver and wild boar.
Professor Mathews labelled it a 'mixed picture'.
She said: "Some species are doing well, so carnivores, for example, like polecats and pine martens, they seem to be bouncing back".
"Probably because they're not being persecuted in the way that they were in the past."
"On the other hand we have species that tend to need quite specialised habitat like the grey long-eared bat or the dormouse where population numbers are really going down."
"So what we need to do is find ways in which we can make sure that all British wildlife is prospering."