Among those in peril are the wildcat, red squirrel, polecat and Orkney vole, says the Review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals, published today.
Commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Natural England, and Natural Resources Wales, it highlights climate change, loss of habitat, use of pesticides and road deaths among the threats.
Charitable organisation the Mammal Society assessed current status, historical and recent population trends, threats, and future prospects of all of Britain’s 58 terrestrial mammals – 41 of which reside in Scotland.
It found that nearly a fifth of native or naturalised mammals in Britain faced extinction, but the figure is even higher in Scotland where nine of the 41 resident mammals, 21.95 per cent, are endangered or vulnerable.
Others in danger include the naturalised black rat, recently expelled from the Shiant Isles in the Outer Hebrides because of its damaging effect on the breeding success of seabirds, the otter and Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat.
The findings could help prioritise conservation work and set an agenda for future research. Lead author Professor Fiona Mathews, chair of the Mammal Society and professor of Environmental Biology at the University of Sussex, said: “This is happening on our doorstep so it falls upon all of us to try and do what we can to ensure our threatened species do not disappear forever.
“In Scotland, species like the wildcat are critical but there are also species like the rabbit, which has suffered a significant decline, and even the otter, which has a stronghold in Scotland, the evidence suggests decline.”
The society is calling for more urgent research to get a clearer picture of Britain’s mammal numbers. For many species, including rabbits and moles, very little information is available.
Prof Mathews added: “It is possible that declines in many species are being overlooked because a lack of robust evidence precludes assessment.
“Effective and evidence-based strategies for mammal conservation and management must be developed before it is too late.”
The report also highlights some British mammal populations in more robust health.
Five species have increased in numbers in the past 20 years, and 18 species have increased their geographical range.
The otter, polecat, beaver, and wild boar are all now found in more locations across the UK than they were 20 years ago, although it is also notable that many of the “success stories” are species recently introduced to the country, such as the grey squirrel and muntjac deer.
There was very little information on species such as brown rats, estimated to number around seven million in Britain; and the house mouse, thought to number five million. Both species could, in reality, have numbers much higher or lower.
Source : EXPRESS