Thirty British species near extinction

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July 1996:

LONDON––The South West
Regional Biodiversity Audit, the first
attempt to monitor the status of wildlife over
an entire region of England, reports after
four years of research that at least 30 species
are near extinction and as many as 7,000 are
“of conservation concern.”
At most risk, the audit found, are
the white-clawed crayfish, the harbor porpoise,
aquatic warblers, and southern damselflies,
followed by river otters and large
blue butterflies. Both have been subject of
recent reintroductions, the large blue butterflies
after having once been believed to be
extinct. The most controversial recommended
protection measures may involve
closing five Devon river basins to crayfish
farming, to protect the white-clawed crayfish
from introduced competitors.

Paradoxically, a variety of
researchers told the April annual conference
of the Mammal Society that many mammals
are making a comeback––especially formerly
persecuted carnivores.
Reported Jonathan Leake of the
London Times, “The pine marten, once
almost extinct, is spreading across Scotland
and has established colonies in northern
England, while polecats are migrating from
Wales to central England. Even the secretive
wildcat has moved out of its enclaves in
northern Scotland to reach Glasgow and
As Leake recounted, “Britain’s
carnivore population reached its lowest
point just before the First World War, when
gamekeepers pushed many species close to
extinction. Pesticides and farming then
destroyed their habitats. The decline of
gamekeeping, greater legal protection, and
safer pesticides have allowed the animals to
thrive. Latest surveys suggest there are now
more than 3,500 pine martens, 5,000 wildcats,
15,000 polecats, and 7,000 otters.
Badgers and foxes, never so endangered,
are also increasing, while stoat and weasel
populations are at more than 450,000 each.”

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