A recent study suggests that the red squirrel, which is commonly seen throughout Europe, could be extinct in England within the next 20 years. The population of the species has declined 50 percent in 50 years. The red squirrel and many other small mammals in England are facing troublesome times at the moment. The reasons for the decline in population include pollution, pesticide use, and habitat loss.
But for the red squirrel, the reasons for the fall also include a rapidly spreading disease that is targeting the species and competition with the invasive gray squirrel.
In the survey, hedgehogs, harvest mice, and Scottish wildcats are also being identified as species at risk in spite of conservation efforts to save these species.
According to the authors of the study, Dawn Burnham and David MacDonald, “the last 15 years have seen some successes, particularly recovery of some rare species, however, with the ongoing decline of once common species, like hedgehogs, it is widely accepted that targets for the Convention on Biological Diversity, for 2010, were missed.”
Although the population of red squirrels has declined, the results of the study are better for other species.
The populations of two different horseshoe bats have risen 32% and 41% respectively over the past 10 years.
The authors are pointing out that progress has been better for species restricted in range. These species have definitely benefited from targeted, site-based, conservation efforts.
But less progress has been there in the case of conservation at the habitat level.