Red squirrel and Scottish wildcat at risk of extinction warns Mammal Society

MORE than a dozen Scottish native mammals are under threat with at least two facing extinction, conservationists claim.

The red squirrel and Scottish wildcat have been named as among the most at risk species in the UK along with seven others.

Six more are regarded as ‘near threatened’.

Their delicate positions are revealed in a new report just published by the respected Mammal Society.

According to the study by scientists at University of Sussex, even the hedgehog is now at risk.

Climate change and loss of habitats are being blamed as potential triggers for the crisis along with pesticide use and road deaths.

Chair and professor of environmental biology at the University of Sussex, Fiona Mathews, said: “This is happening on our own doorstep so it falls upon all of us to try and do what we can to ensure that our threatened species do not go the way of the lynx, wolf and elk and disappear from our shores for ever.”

The UK wide study of 58 species  involved Scottish Natural Heritage along with counterparts at Natural Resource Wales and Natural England.

It is the first comprehensive report of its kind for 20 years, and sparked ‘urgent’ calls for action by conservation groups.

Otters, water voles and some breeds of bats were also classed as being challenged.

The full list is detailed in the latest report called A review of the population and conservation status of British mammals: Technical study

However despite their current status, in Scotland, there are signs that red squirrels and otters are staging a fightback with the help of conservation work

Susan Davies, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Scotland would be a very different place without charismatic mammals such as red squirrels and hedgehogs. We owe it to future generations to work to ensure their survival.

“It is clear from this report that some mammals including the Scottish wildcat and water vole still need urgent help to survive, and that we still lack enough information about many mammals to be able to be certain about their conservation status.

“However, there is also much to celebrate, including the beginning of a recovery of red squirrel numbers in Scotland, and the welcome return of otters, beavers and pine martens.

“These success stories show how concerted action can bring species back from the brink.

“Many mammals have large ranges so takes work at a landscape scale to improve their fortunes.

“We believe that this would be best achieved by focusing efforts through a new National Ecological Network, resurrecting Scotland’s Land Use Strategy, and by re-directing future agricultural payments towards practices that encourage greater biodiversity, among other public goods.”

The details come on the eve of SNH launching its #GenerationWildcat programme later this week.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: A review of the population and conservation status of British mammals: Technical study

IMAGE CREDITS: cc Erik_Lyngsoe


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