Volunteers urged to look out for UK’s ‘big five’ mammals to help wildlife study

Members of the public are being urged to record sightings of the UK’s “big five” wild mammals in their local area to help experts see how wildlife is faring.

Last year’s results of the Living With Mammals survey revealed the most commonly spotted animals were grey squirrels, then foxes, mice, hedgehogs and bats.

They may not quite be the big five of the African savanna, but experts want the public’s help tracking their fortunes to identify where conservation work is needed most in the UK.

Reports of species such as hedgehogs can aid conservation work (Dave Cooper/Hedgehog Street/PA)
Reports of species such as hedgehogs can aid conservation work (Dave Cooper/Hedgehog Street/PA)

From April 1, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is asking people to look out for these common animals, along with any other mammals they see or signs of them in their local green space.

Volunteers can spend anything from 10 minutes a week from April to June 30 reporting the mammals in their chosen green space, from a garden or allotment to a park or other open area within 200 metres of a building.

David Wembridge, surveys officer at PTES, said: “Green spaces, and the wildlife they support, are important – they provide food, clean air and water, and make us healthier and happier.

“Counting our wild neighbours, and knowing how their populations are changing, is a health-check on our towns and cities.”

He added: “As the weather warms up, we hope people will get out and see lots of wildlife – and the signs they leave behind, such as footprints or droppings.”

Depending on where people live they may see rarer mammals such as hazel dormice (Ben Birchall/PA)
Depending on where people live they may see rarer mammals such as hazel dormice (Ben Birchall/PA)

Along with the big five, other common species that people are likely to spot include rabbits, badgers and moles.

Depending on where volunteers live, they may also see rarer mammals such as otters, red squirrels, pine martens, dormice, fallow deer, water voles, stoats and brown hares.

PTES said long-term surveys such as Living With Mammals could collect important data for conservationists to see how populations are changing for better or worse.

For example, information on hedgehogs declining in the countryside has led to experts working hard to help hedgehogs in the urban landscape, with some positive results, the wildlife charity said.

To take part in the survey people can register at: www.ptes.org/LWM

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