A quarter of Britain’s native mammals are at risk of extinction, a report warns.
Red squirrels, wildcats, beavers – even hedgehogs – are in danger of disappearing.
The Red List for British Mammals shows 11 of our 47 native species are at risk.
A raft of reasons endangers the animals – persecution, the use of farming chemicals, loss of habitat and the introduction of non-native species.
Wildcat numbers in Scotland are fewer than 20 and there’s just one known mouse-eared bat living.
Picture: Mike Hetherington
Beavers, red squirrels, water voles and grey long-eared bats are also on the verge of being wiped out.
Hedgehogs and hazel dormice are classified as vulnerable to extinction.
Hedgehogs once numbered 30 million in the 1950s – it’s now estimated there are less than million.
For the first time the Red List has been formally accepted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Mammal Society compiled the list for government agencies in England, Wales, and Scotland.
Professor Fiona Mathews, Mammal Society chairwoman and report lead, said:
“Once an animal becomes endangered or critically endangered, it’s really a scramble for time to put measures in place to rescue them, so we need to be taking a hard look at the species on the next level down so that it doesn’t become a crisis.
Tony Juniper, Natural England chairman, said:
“This is a wake-up call, but it is not too late to act.”
“Central to the recovery of mammals the protection and restoration of large areas of suitable habitat, including through the creation of a vibrant and wildlife-rich nature recovery network, enabling populations of rare animals to increase and be reconnected with one another”.