Not all gloom for noc­tur­nal wildlife

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Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

An as­sess­ment by con­ser­va­tion­ists on the state of our na­tive noc­tur­nal wildlife has found a pic­ture of mixed for­tunes.

The ground-break­ing State of Na­ture re­port, com­piled by 25 UK wildlife groups, shows that hedge­hogs are one of the species hard­est hit, with a de­cline of a third in the past 15 years .

This may be con­nected to a de­cline in food avail­able to them on farm­land.

Two of the coun­try’s most iconic noc­tur­nal mam­mals – foxes and bad­gers – re­main in healthy num­bers across the UK, but the story is rather more com­pli­cated for bats.

Bat num­bers de­clined be­fore the 1980s, but some species have sta­bilised re­cently, and a few oth­ers have in­creased as a con­se­quence of bet­ter pro­tec­tion.

The greater horse­shoe and lesser horse­shoe bat pop­u­la­tions showed an­nual in­creases of around 5% last year.

How­ever, there is still a long way to go be­fore th­ese pop­u­la­tions re­cover from the dra­matic losses sus­tained in the 20th cen­tury.

For noc­tur­nal birds the trends vary widely.

Barn owls have fared well, with a 67% in­crease in their range since the late 1980s, ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish Trust for Or­nithol­ogy.

Night­jars have also in­creased by 128% since 1981, but nightin­gale num­bers have fallen by 46% since 1995.

Other noc­tur­nal species that wildlife groups are con­cerned about in­clude the nat­ter­jack toad, with the species dis­ap­pear­ing from 70% of its for­mer range in the last cen­tury. By 1970 it ex­isted in only 50 places in the UK.

To down­load a copy of The State of Na­ture re­port, visit www.rspb.org.uk/sta­te­of­na­ture

Greater horse­shoe bat num­bers rose last year

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