Guest Blog – why the Mammal Society deserves your support by Marina Pacheco

The recent posts by CEOs on why their organisations deserved public support were very popular so I thought I’d extend the offer to others and here is a blog from the Mammal Society’s CEO Marina Pacheco.


Firstly, why mammals? Because mammals matter! Our elusive, often nocturnal furry cousins are vital to our island ecosystems, on land, in the air and in water, even though this hidden, dispersed nature means they slip from public consciousness. The challenge of playing ‘mammal detective’ to find mammals and their signs in the wild presents a thrill unique to mammals, and brings together a brilliant bunch of people too.

“70 million field voles,” you say, “why should we worry about them?” Well, it’s not all about worrying, but we need to better understand how their numbers rise and fall, as with all mini mammals, because they are such a vital food source for not only our rare mammal carnivores, like the pine marten and wildcat, but for this nation’s much loved birds of prey too.  “Even so, it’s all rats, foxes and other vermin here isn’t it?” Not at all! The British Isles is home to half the world’s grey seal population, 30% of Europe’s red deer, and Europe’s only thriving badger population. Our riparian habitats are home to the famously characteristic otters and water voles, our coniferous forests to red squirrels, the Scottish highlands to the rare pine marten, wildcat and beaver, and woodland to the hazel dormouse and deer.

So, why The Mammal Society? For 60 years, we have been a small yet effective charity with a difference.

We are a charity of firsts, bringing together national expertise to make information on mammals accessible to all, to help them learn and discover. We published the first Handbook of British Mammals in 1963, now into its 4th edition, which at 800 pages is still the most definitive book on British mammals available.  We also published the first mammal atlas in 1971 and the first Red Data book for mammals in 1993. We ran the first national harvest mouse survey, first badger survey and first water shrew and yellow necked mouse surveys. We now aim to produce the first online interactive and continuously updated national mammal atlas using exciting, innovative technology, from phone apps to camera traps, DNA analysis and footprint tracking tunnels.

However, we will not ask for your money and do it for you. Instead, our community of members and supporters are the powerhouse. Our growing network of over 2000 members are out there, doing the important work for mammal research and conservation, making new discoveries, generating new information, advising conservation and advocating effective policy. We sit more behind the scenes because we work to bring everyone together to network, share ideas, get actively involved in conservation, and learn from each other with each other.

We are not the superhero. Everyone is. Everyone who supports our work and gets involved makes a genuine difference for mammals in the British Isles. Every record submitted to our atlas, every mini mammal survey completed, every member adding their voice, every researcher, consultant and conservation volunteer. What we know about mammals and how we can help them comes from our members and supporters.

When mammals need us, we bring our members together to form the national voice for mammals, to stand up for them in national conservation decisions. We are proud to provide the rational response, to present the facts, and stand by our scientific position to help mammals and wildlife. It’s exciting because together, we are more! We want everyone to get out there having a go, because it’s up to all of us. We want a nation of mammal lovers!

We need your support because mammals are so badly under-funded, under-represented and under-studied. Would the decline of water voles, otters and hedgehogs have been so severe if funding had enabled better, regular monitoring? Quite probably. And there are still so many questions. Are harvest mice in decline? How bad is the decline in hedgehogs? How can we best protect the vulnerable wildcat and red squirrel? Are bats being affected by street lights and wind turbines?

So, please support a charity that aims to answer these questions by bringing society together in support of mammal conservation. As we approach our 60th birthday, together we can look forward to another 60 years at least of discovery, sharing, learning, progress and success for mammals and wildlife conservation.



10 Replies to “Guest Blog – why the Mammal Society deserves your support by Marina Pacheco”

  1. Very convincing pitch, I’m considering signing up now. I’d be interested to know what the Mammal Society’s position is on the badger cull and tine extensions to it..?

  2. This and the Vincent Wildlife Trust do nothing for Pine Martens in England. If there was one place where they should be re released it is the Lake District. Pretending there is still one animal alive just does not stick. No road casualties. No sightings other than Polecat and none coming to bird tables! The latest con is that this is a shy creature! So shy that it does not exist in England!!

  3. Good blog. I love mammals. Along with butterflies, dragonflies and birds they are probably my favourite species to see. A Stoat dashing across the path will brighten up any nature walk.
    I was a member of the Mammal Society for one year a while back. I thought then, as now – what can/does the Mammal Society do that my local Wildlife Trust does not ? I also thought the same about Butterfly Conservation, British Dragonfly Society and the RSPB. I am sorry to say it but in my opinion there are just too many NGOs overlapping each other. The situation gets confusing…

  4. I have just looked at the society website. It is an amazing contrast to the RSPB and the others Lancastrian lists its all projects and getting involved, learn more about mammals, it offers developing skills- not just scrub bashing, or serving teas, manning shops, fund raising, lobbying (I admit writing to your MP is vital.)
    I relaise the mammalian membership probably represents qualified people but on this blog one youngster was reported asking if there was anything other than pond dipping. Children complain education is boring for a reason. If you want to involve children you need to go further than identification and ticking lists. I remember steam engines as impressive and they had numbers on so no difficulty in identification. Maybe we should direct children their way.

    My mammal question is bird related. Two or three pairs of barn owls feed over a grazing marsh and this traditionally floods sometimes in winter. This must wipe out the vole population. How quickly can they recolonise.? Would it be worth modifying management requirements to putting the ditch cleanings into heaps to raise the ground in islands for recolonisation. The new problem is the marshes also flood with thunderstorms which was OK when these were in August but now with climate change we have had them in May which is bad news.

  5. Nice blog. Can the wildcat be saved? I understand a pure genetic form is now dangerously small and very restricted.

  6. I am a sleeping member of mammal soc but this blog is inspirational in a careful but understated way so I may have to get a bit more involved! Andrew’s comments are interesting, yes why not vole banks on marshes? At least 12 pairs of barn owls live around Cors Caron(a raised bog) in mid Wales and their fortunes fluctuate with flooding of the bog as its a case of feast and famine, a pattern presumably super-imposed on the ‘normal’ variation of vole years. What is interesting is the timing of breeding by the barn owls which often allows a very late second clutch when conditions are favourable.
    Re pine martens: the Vincent WT have a monitoring programme in west Wales and yes they are here among more numerous polecats and pole/ferret hybrids but they are very difficult to actually see. Before you wish for more make sure the habitat is large and rich enough to support a healthy population of birds!

  7. Liz
    After the flood: Dose that “clean” the site a bit like crop rotation. Voles boom and bust cycles must partly be due to disease build up as well as major predators.
    If you have a dispersed source of re invasion rather than from the edges would that allow a more rapid build up of the population. My question is how fast is re invasion from the edges.
    We planted a small shelter belt on a cereal filed. The grass of course grew in vigorous tufts and must have had a good population of voles judging by the time the Barn owl spent over it compared to the acres of marsh grazing (not all flood prone) next door.

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