In total 11 of the 16 mammals on the Netherlands’ most endangered species list are farmland animals, the Dutch mammal association said on Tuesday.
The list, revised for the first time since 2006, now includes hares, polecats and stoats for the first time, the association said. Rabbits are also included on the red list, in the ‘weak’ category.
In addition, the most endangered species of garden dormouse, European hamster and common dormouse have just managed to survive because of conservation measures but have not shown any improvement in numbers.
‘Most alarmingly, “general” species are now under threat,’ the association said. ‘For example, rabbit and hare numbers have shrunk by 60% to 70% since 1950, while hedgehogs and squirrels are also not doing well.’
The association said more effort is needed to ensure these species recover and that a ‘transition’ is needed in agricultural areas.
There have, however, been some improvements and four species which live in or near water – grey seals, porpoise, otters and beavers – are now off the red list.
The re-establishment of the otter, which had been extinct in the Netherlands, is ‘very special’, the association said. The reintegration project shows that ‘it is possible to regain a thriving otter population even in a densely populated country’.
Animal protection lobby group Dierenbescherming has written to farm minister Carola Schouten urging her to remove rabbits and hares from the official list of animals which can be shot in the Netherlands for pleasure.
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