Volunteers across Sussex are being sought to record any sightings of wild mammals they see in their gardens or local green spaces.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is asking for help as part of its annual nationwide Living with Mammals survey.
Now in its 15th year, PTES’ Living with Mammals survey relies on members of the public volunteering their time for a few weeks between Monday (April 3) and the end of June.
Volunteers are required to choose a site close to their home or place of work, and to spend a short time each week looking out for wild mammals or the signs they leave behind.
Volunteers can record their sightings online or via paper forms.
David Wembridge, Surveys Officer at PTES, explained: “Living with Mammals provides a nationwide picture of how wildlife is faring in our towns and cities. Recording wildlife and tracking how numbers are changing is key to ongoing efforts to conserve it.”
Last year, grey squirrels were recorded at seven out of every ten sites (69.4%), making them the most commonly reported wild mammal in the survey. But grey squirrels are just one of the 28 wild mammal species that have been recorded during Living with Mammals. Over the survey’s 15-year history, mammal sightings range from smaller species such as wood mice, water voles and hedgehogs, to much larger species including deer, badgers, foxes and otters.
David Wembridge, Surveys Officer at PTES, continued: “One thing to come out of this survey is the surprising number of different mammals present in urban areas. Some are only rare visitors to our gardens and parks, but if we can encourage that diversity, it’s a good indication of the natural health of our towns and cities.”
Many of Britain’s mammals, including the hedgehog – recently voted as the nation’s favourite mammal in a 2016 poll – foxes, grey squirrels and bats, are typically found in household gardens, recreational areas, cemeteries and brownfield sites, but other green spaces close to buildings may also provide a home to them. However, there are some mammals that only live in certain parts of the country: red squirrels are found mostly in Scotland, on the Isle of Wight and in northern England; while hazel dormice, which are rare but occasional visitors to gardens, are mostly found in southern counties of England and in Wales.
David Wembridge concluded: “The natural world is never far away from us, even in towns and cities. The presence of wild mammals is a positive sign of the health of theses spaces, and while it may not be commonplace to see some of these species, we can still find a surprising number. Taking part in Living with Mammals is a huge help to PTES’ ongoing conservation efforts.”
To take part in PTES’ 2017 Living with Mammals survey, register online at www.ptes.org/living-with-mammals/