Tag Archives: mammals

Genetically modified squirrels could curb growing population of greys

Photo by Denis Fournier under Creative commons

The Telegraph and iNEWS report mutant grey squirrels, genetically modified to spread infertility genes, could be released into the wild to tackle the burgeoning population, the University of Edinburgh has said.

North American grey squirrels were imported to Britain in the mid-19th century by landowners, and their population has now grown to more than two million. Not only do they out-compete the native red squirrel, they also strip trees of their bark, causing a threat to woodlands, as well as preying on eggs and chicks. 

Urban beavers to be released by Wildlife Trusts during record comeback

Photo by Pat Gaines under Creative Commons

The Daily Telegraph reports perhaps one of the last things one would expect to see when popping to the high street would be a beaver busily foraging materials for its dam. However, the Wildlife Trusts are planning the first in a wave of urban beaver releases, with a pair due to be transplanted to central Shrewsbury, and influential figures behind the “rewilding” plans say this is the beginning of a drive to get them in most towns and cities.

The Wildlife Trusts have identified a 12-hectare site in the centre of the large Shropshire town which is perfect to host the furry rodents. It is currently being prepared for their release next year. 

Northumberland lynx trial: New bid to introduce cats to forest

Lynx photo by tiny_packages under creative commons

The BBC reports a second bid to introduce lynx to a Northumberland forest is to be made two years after it was rejected. The Lynx UK Trust had wanted to release Eurasian wildcats into Kielder Forest but the government rejected the plan saying it lacked “depth”. The trust said it had addressed shortfalls in its bid which aims to save Kielder being “overrun” with deer. However, the National Sheep Association (NSA) said lynx would prey on “easy meals” such as sheep and red squirrels. Lynx became extinct in the UK in about AD700 because they were hunted for their fur. 

UK government backs birth control for grey squirrels

Photo by Denis Fournier under creative commons

BBC News reports environment minister Lord Goldsmith says the damage grey squirrels and other invasive species do to the UK’s woodlands costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year. The bizarre-sounding plan is to lure grey squirrels into feeding boxes only they can access with little pots containing hazelnut spread. These would be spiked with an oral contraceptive. 

The pandemic has revived the demonisation of bats, but they aren’t the villains – we are

Photo of pipistrelle bat by Bill Tyne under creative commons

The Independent reports people have always been suspicious and fearful of bats so we needed little encouragement to point the finger their way. Some media outlets have even called for a global genocide of all bats. Of course, all this recrimination is a defence mechanism that stops us having to look closer to home.   It’s a shame we’re so quick to judge because bats are wonderful, fascinating creatures. They have been on Earth for more than 50 million years – far longer than humans – and there are more than 1,400 different species of them, meaning around 20 per cent of the world’s mammal species are bats. 

Largest grey seal colony in England to welcome 4,000-strong baby boom

The Independent reports the largest grey seal colony in England is expecting a major baby boom of 4,000 new arrivals this year, the National Trust has said. Rangers monitoring the colony at Blakeney National Nature Reserve in Norfolk are having to rethink the way they count the numbers of pups born at the breeding ground due to how much it is growing. 

Grey seals photo by Dick Knight under creative commons.

Feral wallabies sighted in UK almost 100 times in 10 years

The Independent reports wild wallabies only live in Australia don’t they? Wrong. Wallabies are here in the UK, and they are becoming increasingly common.

In recent years, feral red-necked wallabies have been seen bobbing along dark stretches of road in Kent, scampering into towns in Devon, fighting police in St Ives, and patrolling the graves in London’s Highgate Cemetery. But now, researchers at University College Dublin used public records and media reports to reveal there were almost 100 wallaby sightings in the UK over the past 10 years. 

Red-necked wallaby photo by Wildlife Wanderer under creative commons.

Joanna Lumley blasts wind farms for turning dolphins deaf

THE TIMES reports the actress is campaigning for an end to the detonation of submerged bombs during the construction of wind farms, after fears that the blasts deafen marine mammals. She has joined with conservation charities to say that this approach is “crazy”. A vast quantity of live explosives still lies in the seas around Britain, many dumped by Nazi bombers that failed to find their targets. 

Bottlenose dolphins photo by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith under creative commons.