|Endangered mammals alive and well near you?|
Wildlife conservation charity, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is asking people to take part in their seventh annual survey of mammals in the urban environment; Living with Mammals.
Since 2003, Living with Mammals has asked volunteers to look out for mammals, and their signs, around their homes, places of work and recreational land. By continuing this work PTES can gain a better understanding of urban mammals and spot changes in their numbers.
Analysis of the first five years of data has shown that garden features such as berry- or seed-producing plants, or gardens with a shed, pond or woodpile support more mammals. Considering gardens make up between a third and a half of the green space in urban areas their significance for wildlife and biodiversity is clear. Almost half of Britain’s terrestrial wild mammal species have been recorded in the survey, including 17 Species of Conservation Concern and seven priority species such as water voles, hedgehogs and otters.
Particularly encouraging were records of otters within the survey. Otters are good indicators of water quality in rivers and as the species increasingly makes use of urban waterways, they are becoming a flagship species in recognising the importance of the built environment in conservation.
PTES is now urging more people to get involved so they can achieve an even more robust set of results. The survey runs throughout April, May and June 2009 and PTES needs volunteers to look out for mammals in spare moments each week, at sites such as gardens, allotments, cemeteries and parks, whether you are walking the dog, getting a breath of fresh air from work or looking out of your kitchen window.
Why not take part in the survey, not only will be helping the conservation of mammals but you may surprise yourself with what you can see right on your doorstep. The presence of mammals so close to home is of enormous value and highlights how our urban green spaces blur the distinction between natural and built environments.
Wild mammals are often difficult to spot and looking for signs such as tracks and droppings is an alternative way to identify their presence. PTES is encouraging people to become animal detectives and to discover which animals share the environment around our homes and places of work. It is not difficult to identify hedgehogs from droppings, wood mice from stashes of hidden nuts, or tracks of deer or badger.
All those who contact PTES for a survey pack will receive an exclusive full-colour Spotting Wild Mammals booklet containing information of how to identify species and recognise the field signs that they leave behind.