Tag Archives: news

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of all at Wiltshire Mammal Group & Wiltshire Bat Group, a very merry Christmas and happy new year to you all!XmasRhipp

Thank you to everyone for their efforts in surveying and monitoring Wiltshire mammals, and in promoting positive conservation messages! May 2019 be full of even more!!

Why not consider the perfect Christmas gift – a year’s membership to Wiltshire Mammal Group or Wiltshire Bat Group!

The Christmas break (and the associated over-indulgence!)  is the perfect time for winter walks and some impromptu mammal recording! Please submit your records via Living Record or email them directly to us. Or consider downloading and using MammalTracker or MammalMapper. Your records are important in providing the evidence base to support Wiltshire’s mammals.

Nadolig Llawen – Joyeux Noel – Fröhliche Weihnachten – Wesołych Świąt – Nollaig Shona


URGENT: Disease in Brown Hares; your help needed

In October 2018 Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Norfolk Wildlife Trust initiated a partnership project with the University of East Anglia to study a series of mysterious hare deaths in the East Anglia region. In promoting this work on TV, radio and the press, UEA have received reports of large numbers of hare deaths from across the UK (including south-west England, Wales and Scotland). Post mortems indicate that several viruses are involved including hares dying with symptoms characteristic of myxomatosis in rabbits. The reports indicate that these infections are spreading throughout the national brown hare population, and that spread is rapid.

Wiltshire Mammal Group is therefore asking anyone seeing a freshly dead hare to record its location and grid reference, date and to photograph the entire animal – especially around the head and bottom – and send the information to Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia. Dr Bell has recently been studying the impacts of diseases on rabbit populations, including myxomatosis and strains of haemorrhagic disease.

Dr Bell said: “The death of any animal is obviously distressing but we’re asking people to try and photograph these hares to help us understand what is happening. Getting good images and the actual bodies of these hares, along with their exact location, is crucial for us to rule out or identify possible diseases. Any dead animals should be double-bagged using gloves and where possible put into a freezer for collection or ”

Wiltshire is an important stronghold for brown hares in the UK; the recently-published Mammals in Wiltshire (Second Edition) demonstrates that they are widely-spread in the county and indeed are more frequently recorded that rabbits. In fact, rabbits have declined rapidly in recent years in response to different strains of rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

There is also no closed season for hares, which means that they can be shot legally at any time of the year – including during breeding season. Illegal hare coursing is also still prevalent in Wiltshire (see Wiltshire Rural Crime Team Facebook page, 17th December 2018).

Hares can be distinguished from rabbits in a number of ways. Hares are larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and black-tipped ears that are as least as long as their heads.

Have you seen a sick or dead hare?

Since more than one virus is involved, observers may encounter dead or dying hares exhibiting a range of symptoms, including the bulging eyes and bleeding characteristic of Myxomatosis to a wide range of other symptoms seen in the haemorrhagic disease (including looking apparently perfectly healthy to bleeding from the eyes and orifices, and lethargy).

Please note the precise location & grid reference (using a map or this website), and date. 

The team are keen to receive carcasses of the hare for post-mortem and analyses to confirm which viral infection is involved. Using gloves where-ever possible, double-bag carcasses and tag with the date and location and then freeze or leave in a cold place.

And then:

Please send your report, with a photograph of the hare (including its head and bottom) to Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia by emailing d.bell@uea.ac.uk. Inform Dr Bell immediately and arrangements will be made for collection of carcases.

And for those reports in the south-west of England,  please also copy your report to another member of this research team, Dr Alex Barlow MRCVS, APHA Wildlife Group, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Alex.Barlow@apha.gov.uk

Carcases can be delivered, after discussion of case, to either of two sites depending on location; Please don’t deliver carcases before discussion of cases.

  • Main site; APHA Starcross VI Centre, Starcross, Staplake Mount, Starcross, Exeter, Devon, EX6  8PE
  • Bristol Vet School’s Post Mortem Room, at Langford House, Langford, Nr Bristol, Somerset, BS40 5DU

Wiltshire Mammal Group is not able to collect or store carcasses or arrange for their delivery.

Please be aware; this is incredibly serious for the UK’s brown hare populations (its not yet known what the impact may be upon mountain hare populations), and it is likely to result in a massive reduction in hare numbers. In a county such as Wiltshire, this will be especially noticeable where hares are normally so frequently seen.

In parts of East Anglia, the impact upon hare populations is expected to be so significant that some shooting estates have ceased any shooting of hares (for either sport, pest control or eating) in order to support populations as much as possible.

This webpage will be updated with additional information as it comes available

(GOH 18/12/2018, updated 19/12/2018)

More information

Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia, d.bell@uea.ac.uk

Alex Barlow Veterinary Investigation Officer, APHA Wildlife Group, Alex.Barlow@apha.gsi.uk


Gareth Harris, Wiltshire Mammal Group, wiltshiremammalgroup@hotmail.co.uk

Shout out to members of WBG

A shout out to members of Wiltshire Bat Group:

Many WBG members join the group by paying cash or by bank standing order (standing orders are preferred as they are easier for us to administrate!).

However, a small number of members have joined without providing any contact details (for example by setting up standing orders without telling us who they are!), or haven’t provided updated contact details if they’ve changed.

If you believe you are a member, but are not receiving regular updates and information from our Secretary, it is because we don’t have your up-to-date email address.

We have over 170 members, but only contact email addresses for around 150. If you want to get our updates via email please contact us on wiltsbgmembership-at-gmail.com, and we’ll make sure our records are updated.

Thanks! WP.


The new Wiltshire Mammal Portal is a combined website for both the Wiltshire Mammal Group and the Wiltshire Bat Group

Find out about the groups and their activities…

Follow us click the “Follow this blog via email” link to ensure you stay up to date with new posts on the site.
Join us your contributions directly support mammal conservation across Wiltshire by funding surveys and training events. For more details for membership of either group visit membership.
Get involved there are a variety of things you can do to help Wiltshire’s mammals, ranging from surveys to helping to organise events. Contact us for more information.
Submit records all supporters are encouraged to submit their mammal records. Visit the recording page to find out how.

Photos courtesy of our members & supporters

It’s finished! Mammals in Wiltshire, 2nd Edition

It is with great pleasure that we announce the completion of the new atlas, entitled, Mammals in Wiltshire, 2nd Edition.

The new atlas can be downloaded here, free of charge. Mammals in Wiltshire_2nd edition_ver 1.0

The intention has been to produce a freely-accessible web-based document to ensure the information is widely available, not least to the many recorders and organisations contributing to its production. Furthermore, such a document can be easily updated in the near future as new survey findings and data are added. The version number and future additions will be listed in the introductory pages of the document.Atlas Cover

This publication has been supported by Wiltshire Natural History Publications Trust, whose grant supported the map production and data management by WSBRC. Huge thanks are extended to the many other contributors, including those writing species accounts, capturing data, surveying and submitting records and to Dr Fiona Mathews and Dr Patrick Dillon for providing their insights for the foreword.

There has been a huge effort since 2013 to deliver this work. To assist with more of this work by Wiltshire Mammal Group, Wiltshire Bat Group and WSBRC, we’d be grateful if you could make a donation using this link. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust are kindly hosting this donation page and all funding will be administered by WSBRC to support future atlas projects as well as bat group and mammal group projects.

Make a donation

Suggested donation – £10 for individuals, £25 for ecological consultancies and other organisations.

It is hoped that this atlas will help to promote the importance of the county, its habitats and mammal species, to a wider audience, promoting the importance of safeguarding important sites for mammals, now and in the future, to local planning authorities, statutory bodies such as Natural England and Environment Agency, as well as nature reserve managers across the county. This includes those sites where mammals are the feature of interest for designated sites, for example the bat species listed on the Special Areas of Conservation at Bath & Bradford-on-Avon and Chilmark Quarries, and Dormice included as features of the Savernake Forest SSSI.

Wiltshire is an incredible county supporting significant numbers of many of the UK’s species of conservation, ranging from recovering populations of Otters and Polecat, to Brown Hare, Water vole, Harvest Mice and Hedgehog. The county also supports nationally and internationally-important sites for bats (such as the SACs mentioned above). Furthermore, recent surveys are highlighting important populations of rare woodland bats such as Bechstein’s and Barbastelle bats.

Help support your local mammal populations, whether by supporting the Hedgehogs in your garden, or supporting the survey work by the mammal group and bat group.

The atlas project may complete, but we still need to continue the survey and monitoring of mammals across Wiltshire – we will deliver updates to the atlas as we make new significant discoveries and advances in knowledge. Please keep submitting your records.

Further information here.

Happy reading!

Quick Reminder! Evening Talk: Dr Fiona Mathews – Resolving conflicts between development and wildlife in Britain

Just a quick reminder of Dr Fiona Mathew’s forthcoming evening talk.

Wiltshire Mammal Group is pleased to announce that it will be hosting Dr Fiona Mathews presenting an evening talk at Lackham College, Chippenham on Saturday 18th February. Dr Mathews is Associate Professor of Mammalian Biology at University of Exeter & Chair of The Mammal Society. She will be providing an update on the recent achievements of The Mammal Society, followed by, after a short interval, a discussion on Resolving conflicts between development and wildlife in Britain (ranging from her recently published work on bats & wind turbines to habitat fragmentation and much more!).

More information here.

Don’t forget to bring a friend – the more the merrier!

Evening Talk: Dr Fiona Mathews – Resolving conflicts between development and wildlife in Britain

Wiltshire Mammal Group is pleased to announce that it will be hosting Dr Fiona Mathews presenting an evening talk at Lackham College, Chippenham on Saturday 18th February. Dr Mathews is Associate Professor of Mammalian Biology at University of Exeter & Chair of The Mammal Society. She will be providing an update on the recent achievements of The Mammal Society, followed by, after a short interval, a discussion on Resolving conflicts between development and wildlife in Britain (ranging from her recently published work on bats & wind turbines to habitat fragmentation and much more!).

Doors open from 1830 hours, starting at 1900 hours. Refreshments will be provided. Entrance £3. With thanks to Lackham College for hosting. Lackham College is located off the A350, between Chippenham and Lacock and is signposted Wiltshire College, Lackham. Postcode is SN15 2NY, directions may be found here. There is plenty of car parking. The talk will be in S18 located at the far end of the campus as you drive in (Grid ref ST 92696 70122)  – there will be signage in place to guide you.

No booking necessary. Please bring a friend!

Email wiltshiremammalgroup@hotmail.co.uk with any queries.

Happy New Year and…..

A few WMG-related things to wrap up 2016 and begin 2017……

We are now on Facebook!

Wiltshire Mammal Group now has a Facebook Group – or search Wiltshire Mammal Group on Facebook to join us.  We hope this will be a friendly space for everyone to contribute photos, ideas, news, stories, questions and all things mammal related.  We hope you enjoy this group and make it your own.

Wiltshire Bat Group have also launched their own Facebook Group too…….

Publication of next newsletter

Thank you to those of you who have sent in submissions for the upcoming WMG newsletter, they are greatly appreciated. This is a final call for submissions, pictures, news stories, quizzes etc. you know the drill! 


The amount of data being submitted has fallen markedly this year.  This is probably down to the fact that the deadline for data to be included in the Wiltshire Mammal Atlas has now passed.  Although data submitted now won’t make it into this edition of the atlas it is still extremely useful and will likely make the next edition.  This is a plea to everyone to submit all those records that you have been meaning to and just haven’t found the time or just forgot about.  

Why not work off some of those mince pies and go for a lovely winter stroll in the countryside, become a mammal detective and send in those records?  I find it a very welcome break from all hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping; it is also a great excuse to escape the in-laws for an hour or two!

Upcoming events

The Group’s next event will be the Owl Pellet Workshop on Sunday 22nd January …….we look forward to seeing some of you there!

We are planning a number of exciting talks for the new year which would be lovely to as many of you at as possible.  We also hope to run a series of semi guided mammal walks throughout the county – the idea being to go for a walk with a great bunch of people and record the tracks, signs and sightings of mammals along the way.  Depending on location and attendees there may also be the option of a pub lunch / drink to warm up after the walk.  These will e free to attend (but you will have to buy your own food and drink – sorry!) and are open to everyone – no experience necessary.  If anyone is interested in leading one of these walks then please get in touch.

Happy New Year!


Scottish Beavers & Natural Flood Management

Following the great news this week regarding Beavers and natural flood management , there are some great comments and reflections on this news here:

Scottish Government – Beavers to remain in Scotland

Rewilding BritainBeavers are back for good in Scotland – and they will be protected

Mark Avery – Standing up for Nature – Guest Blog – What now for Beavers in the UK? 

Miles King’s A New Nature BlogGood News for Beavers and Natural Flood Management.

The GuardianGovernment commits £15m to natural flood management