Hedgehogs at risk of Extinction in Britain

Hedgehogs could be extinct within a generation in the U.K., campaigners warn, with calls for the government to act before it's too late.

They are among a quarter of mammals that have been placed on an official "red list" of endangered species in the country, the first of its kind.

The 11 mammals on the list include the wildcat, red squirrel, water vole, hazel dormouse and hedgehog.

Fiona Mathews, chair of the Mammal Society and professor at the University of Sussex, led the report.

"I'm not saying they [the hedgehog] are going to go extinct in the next five years and actually it's quite difficult to put a precise number on it, just as we can't put a precise number on it for a lion or a tiger," she told the BBC.

"What we're saying is that the trajectory of travel is such that if we don't do something really radical, a lot bolder, then yes, these species that were taken for granted... they are going to end up with our grandchildren not being able to see them."

The report goes on to state that the reasons for the decline vary between the species, with factors such as extensive historical persecution, habit degradation and the introduction of non-native species all playing a part in contributing to the threat posed to the existence of the mammals.

Matthews said: "The new Red List provides a very clear basis for prioritizing funding and conservation efforts for the future. Twenty species — those classed as Threatened, Near Threatened, and Data Deficient — all need urgent attention.

"While we bemoan the demise of wildlife in other parts of the world, here in Britain we are managing to send even rodents towards extinction. Things have to change rapidly if we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the wildlife we take for granted."

  • Critically endangered: Wildcat, greater mouse-eared bat
  • Endangered: Beaver, red squirrel, water vole, grey long-eared bat
  • Vulnerable: Hedgehog, hazel dormouse, Orkney vole, Serotine bat, Barbastelle bat
Hedgehogs are at risk of extinction in the U.K. Getty

There are 107 different species of mammals living in the U.K., but only a small percentage of these are native. There are 28 native terrestrial mammal species, 2 native marine mammals and 18 native bats, according to the Mammal Society.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said "This is a wake-up call, but it is not too late to act. We are working with our partners to recover our threatened and widely loved mammals, including licensing the reintroduction of beavers into England, and supporting the recovery of dormice and the grey long-eared bat, but there is so much more to do.

"Central to the recovery of these and other creatures will be the protection and restoration of large areas of suitable habitat, including through the creation of a vibrant and wildlife-rich Nature Recovery Network, enabling populations of rare animals to increase and be reconnected with one another."

The Mammal Society warns that although reintroducing species to local areas may be successful, the long term threat to their existence won't be removed.

The report states. "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."