A WARNING has been issued over Britain's native mammals, following a report suggesting that a quarter of species are now at risk of extinction.

Wildlife organisations are calling for conservation action to address this decline, and protect wildlife for future generations.

The Mammal Society for Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage (NatureScot) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee published the first official ‘Red List’ for British mammals which shows that 11 of the 47 mammals native to Britain are classified as being at imminent risk of extinction.


Among those species listed are the water vole, hedgehog, hazel dormouse, wildcat and the grey long-eared bat.

The reasons for the declines vary between species, ranging from historical persecution to habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species.

A further five species are classified as ‘near threatened’ with a realistic possibility of them becoming threatened with extinction in the near future, and the conservation status of four species is unknown due to lack of information.

In Scotland there are 36 native or formerly native species of which 18 have been deemed as ‘at risk’. Wildcats and harvest mice have been included on the critically endangered list with polecats and Eurasian beavers on the endangered list. There has been a 26% decline in red foxes over the last 17 years which has been put down to declining rabbit populations.

Mammal Society chair and professor at the University of Sussex, Fiona Matthews, led the report: “The new Red List provides a very clear basis for prioritising funding and conservation efforts for the future,” said Ms Matthews. “Twenty species — those classed as Threatened, Near Threatened, and Data Deficient — all need urgent attention. While we bemoan the demise of wildlife in other parts of the world, here in Britain we are managing to send even rodents towards extinction. Things have to change rapidly if we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the wildlife we take for granted.”

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper added: “This is a wake-up call, but it is not too late to act. We are working with our partners to recover our threatened and widely loved mammals, including licensing the reintroduction of beavers into England, and supporting the recovery of dormice and the grey long-eared bat, but there is so much more to do.

“Central to the recovery of these and other creatures will be 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,” he explained.