MAMMALS (EXCLUDING BATS)

D. Lord

This account is based on A Red Data Book for British Mammals (Morris, 1993). However, as Morris (1993) states in his introduction, this work was not intended as a definitive statement. It was written principally to stimulate discussion as well as to draw attention to the need for specific action. Due to the poor state of our knowledge of mammal distribution at the time of writing, Morris (1993) used as his main criteria for selection of species those mammals protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and 1985, listed on Schedules 5 and 6. This approach is a valid one, since the Act mainly provides legal protection for many of our rarer species. There are, however, short-comings with this method of selection, since some of these species are protected on grounds other than conservation, notably the Badger, the Common Shrew, the Pygmy Shrew and the Hedgehog. As Morris (1993) points out, “The Badger is widespread in Britain and sometimes sufficiently abundant to locally pose problems. It is also increasing in many areas”. The inclusion of the Common Shrew is even more confusing given that Morris (1993) describes this species as: “very widespread and abundant. Indeed it may be the most numerous British mammal” (listed in order to harmonise with European Community Legislation).

Morris (1993) also includes certain “sensitive species”: the hares, the Water Vole and the Yellownecked Mouse. I have added the Harvest Mouse to the list since it lives in marginal habitats and wetlands where populations are vulnerable due to habitat change (Harris, Morris, Wray & Yalden, 1995). Although not endangered it has declined and is nowhere near as common as it should be (Perrow & Jowitt, 1995).

Of the 18 British Red Data Book mammals listed by Morris (1993) (excluding bats), 11 are currently extant in Cornwall. Of the extinct species, I have excluded the Wildcat Felis sylvestris and the Black Rat Rattus rattus, since there is virtually no chance of these species becoming re-established in Cornwall. The Polecat is included since there is a very strong possibility of it returning to Cornwall in the future. The Pine Marten is also included since there is some chance of it being re-established if the right efforts are made. There is very little, if any, chance of the Red Squirrel becoming re-established in Cornwall. However, because this species was extant, in Cornwall, in the 1980s, hence has post-1980 records, I have included it.

The sequence of Orders has changed from the first edition of this book, to follow that given by Harris & Yalden (2008) (changed recently to match current thoughts on evolution and phylogeny).

The updating of mammals for this new edition of the Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Spalding (Ed.), 1997) has not been a simple matter for much has happened during the intervening eleven or so years regarding the study, recording and conservation of mammals in Cornwall. A few professional mammalogists and enthusiastic groups of volunteers, through various projects, have improved our knowledge of the status of Cornish mammals. Kate Stokes of Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT), for example, has (in addition to her own work on semi-aquatic mammals) co-ordinated the Otter Group and set up the Cornwall Mammal Group (CMG). On the strength of CMG, CWT, through the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS), also initiated a four year project titled ‘Celebrating Cornwall’s Mammals: from Dormice to Dolphins’ (2003-2007). This project, headed by Alex Howie, successfully increased mammal recording activity in Cornwall and gave us a better understanding of our mammal distribution patterns. In addition, Vic Simpson, in this period, has set up the Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre (WVIC) where much of his necropsy work has concentrated on Cornish mammals. Further good work will no doubt continue into the future and a mammal atlas is planned, by CMG, for 2011.

There have also, of course, been advances at the national level in our knowledge of British mammals. This is reflected, perhaps, in the recent publication of the long awaited new edition of the British mammalogist’s ‘bible’, The Mammals of the British Isles: handbook 4th edition, edited by Harris and Yalden (2008). This has provided a major reference for this 2008 update.

I am grateful to Vic Simpson and Sue Scott for providing reference notes and distribution data and would particularly like to thank Kate Stokes for providing detailed, relevant, local information for some species. Thanks are also due to Johnny Birks and John Messenger, the national authorities on Polecats and Pine Martens, for up to date information on those two species.

(*Note: In the following species accounts the first edition, 1997, red data book number of 1km squares is given in brackets after the new RDB 2008 figure, at the start of each account).

Accounts of Red-list species

Sciurus vulgaris Red Squirrel

Muscardinus avellanarius Hazel Dormouse

Arvicola terrestris Water Vole

Micromys minutus Harvest Mouse

Apodemus flavicollis Yellow-necked Mouse

Lepus europaeus Brown Hare

Erinaceus europaeus Hedgehog

Sorex araneus Common Shrew

Sorex minutus Pygmy Shrew

Neomys fodiens Water Shrew

Crocidura suaveolens Lesser White-toothed Shrew

Meles meles Badger

Lutra lutra Otter

Martes martes Pine Marten

Mustela putorius Polecat