Have you found animal remains?

Occasionally, when you are out and about, you may come across the remains of a dead animal. While this is sad, it may be possible to collect the carcass and pass it on to be used by scientists in animal conservation research. At Wiltshire Mammal Group we realise how valuable this research is for the health of all the mammals living in our county so we would like to help you to support that research.

Before collecting any remains, make sure you have the appropriate personal protective equipment to do it safely (disposable gloves at least!) so that you do not run any risks. Dead animals such as hares and otters should normally be double bagged. Otters and foxes infected with avian flu have been recently found in northern parts of the country. Infection is understood to have occurred due to the ingestion of diseased birds, so wearing gloves and washing after sampling is an effective risk mitigation. It is important to note that most samples, either faecal material or dead animals, must be stored in a cool location to ensure they do not degrade. For more information, please read the Cardiff University press release on the subject.

Different remains need to be dealt with in specific ways so we have produced this guide to show you what to do with a particular focus on Wiltshire mammals:

Type of sampleType of animalCan I sample itWhat is it for?More information
Faecal material (make sure that it is fresh, you are reasonably certain what animal has produced it and there is no or little chance of contamination)
Priority bat species (Barbastelle, Bechstein’s, Noctule, Soprano pipistrelle, Brown long-eared, Greater horseshoe and Lesser horseshoe bat) Yes!Confirmation of presence of priority species via DNAWiltshire Bat Group
Wood mouse, bank and field voles, hedgehog, brown rat, rabbit, and shrewsYes!Exposure to plastic in wild mammals across the UKMammal society
Fox, polecat, pine marten, mink, stoat or weaselYes! PAUSEDTransmission of coronaviruses from humans to mustelidsRachel Tarlington at Nottingham University
Dead animal (make sure that it is truly dead and rule out animal crime first!)
BatYesRabies in batsBat Conservation Trust
BadgerNo, but report itBadger Conservation Trust
Cetacean (whale or dolphin)No, but report itCetacean Strandings Investigation Programme
DormouseYesDisease threats to the conservation of dormice and improve our understanding of their population dynamicsZoological Society of London
HareYes, but only if it has symptoms of MyxomatosisCross over of virus from wild rabbits to haresDiana Bell at University of East Anglia
OtterYesContaminants, disease, and population biology on otters across the UKCardiff University Otter Project and Wild Otter Trust
Mammal samples for conservation research.

Depending on your location in Wiltshire, if you would like help taking samples or making sure samples are stored correctly before dispatch to the right place, we may be able to assist you further by providing advice or access to storage. Please email wiltsanimalremains@gmail.com with your questions.

By forwarding examples of faecal matter or dead mammals to scientists for research you are increasing understanding of the many threats our mammals face which is valuable for the animals living in Wiltshire and the country at large.

If you are outside Wiltshire, you may want to get in touch with your local mammal group, see Local Groups – The Mammal Society.

…and if you would like to know more about this subject, the Wildlife Disease & Contaminant Monitoring & Surveillance Network has information on UK surveillance schemes that monitor disease and contaminants in vertebrate wildlife.

PLEASE NOTE: The Nottingham University project is currently on hold. If you would like to make a submission to them please email first.

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