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The IUCN Red List of Britain’s Mammals

If you happened to be watching or listening to the news at the end of July you may have heard Mammal Society Chair, Professor Fiona Mathews, discussing the worsening situation for Britain’s at-risk mammal populations.

Fiona Mathews (Mammal Society)
Fiona Mathews (Mammal Society)

Fiona was interviewed to talk about the publication of the IUCN Red List of those native British mammals which are at risk of extinction.

Red List for Britain's Mammals
Red List for Britain's Mammals

Why is it the Red List important?

Fiona explains: “This report is important because it is backed by government and is also accepted internationally by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (the same organisation that classifies rhinos and tigers as endangered). We therefore now have a document everyone agrees clearly shows the need for urgent action for Britain's mammals. We simply cannot carry on with 'business as usual' and expect that creatures like the hedgehog, dormouse, water-vole or grey long-eared bat will still be here for our children and grandchildren.”

Which of Britain’s mammals appear on the Red List?

The Red List highlights that over a quarter of Britain’s mammals are at risk of extinction. There are sixteen species That appear at the top of the list (see infographic below), among them are the water vole, hedgehog, hazel dormouse, beaver, red squirrel, wildcat and the grey long-eared bat.

Watch a video about the Red List 

To see the full Red List visit the Mammal Society website.

Why are we seeing a reduction in population sizes?

The reasons for the declines vary between species. For some, such as the wildcat, pine marten, and beaver (which is doing well in the scattered locations where it has been reintroduced), there has been extensive historical persecution. For bats and the hazel dormouse, habitat loss is the main threat; while the water vole, red squirrel and Orkney vole suffer from the combined effects of habitat degradation and the introduction of non-native species.

Water Vole by Philip Braude
Water Vole by Philip Braude

What can be done to help Britain’s mammals?

Reintroductions can offer hope for some species. For example, local reintroductions of beavers have been successful, with the animals readily breeding in the wild; and translocations of pine martens from Scotland — where over 98% of the British population is found — have boosted populations in Wales. Nevertheless, the animals will only cease to be classed as threatened once their populations are much larger and better connected.

Unfortunately, for most other species, reintroductions are not a solution because the causes of their declines have not been rectified. Instead, fundamental change is needed in the way we manage our landscapes and plan future developments, so that we provide the space and habitat needed for our wildlife to thrive.

Fiona Mathews says: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how important the natural world is to us: we need to put making space for nature at the heart of our recovery. In addition to the urgent need for more funding, everyone can help by taking small steps like putting aside areas for wildlife in their gardens, and asking schools, golf clubs and those who run community sports pitches to do the same. We also want the public to help monitor how our mammals are doing by using the free mammal-mapper app for smart phones when they go out on a walk.”

Find out more about the Red List on our website here.

Download the free Mammal Mapper app here.

View what tips our experts had for a wildlife-friendly garden in the video below

Have you read our latest student blog?

Every month we publish a blog showcasing a student’s mammal-related research. This month’s blog is by Lizzie Marshall and it’s called The Wolf in the Story. You can read it here.

To view a list of all of our student blogs go to If you are a research student and would like your work to be featured please get in touch with our Student Rep, Beth at

Student Blog - The Wolf in the Story
Student Blog - The Wolf in the Story

Local Mammal Groups

Local mammal groups bring together people with a shared enthusiasm for the local environment and the mammals within it. They work to share knowledge and raise awareness, survey and monitor local mammals, provide local expertise and training in field skills, hold talks and events, and support the work of the Mammal Society. To find out if there is a group near you click here.

Mammal News

If like us, you love mammals, you might be interested in receiving our magazine Mammal News. To receive your copy you will need to become a member of the Mammal Society and with membership available at £3 a month (less with concessions) we think this is a bit of a bargain. Find out more/become a member here.

Coming soon

This year’s National Mammal Week will take place between 23 October and 1 November. This is the week where we go all out to raise awareness about Britain’s mammals and the issues they face. Throughout the week we’ll be running competitions and posting information and we hope that you will get involved. For the most up to date information be sure to check our website or follow us on social media.

Booking is now open for the Mammal Society’s 66th Spring Conference which takes place on Friday 16 to Sunday 18 April 2021 at Robinson College, University of Cambridge. Over the next few months we will be announcing some of the presentations you can look forward to seeing. Shortly we will also be inviting submissions of papers and posters. To find out more about what’s in store keep an eye on our webpage here. To reserve your place click here. For more information contact

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Posted On: 07/08/2020

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