At least one in five British mammals is at high risk of extinction, a study had found.

The red squirrel, the wildcat and the grey long-eared bat are among 12 species that have been put on the first red list for wild mammals in the UK.

The Mammal Society studied 58 native, naturalised, introduced and reintroduced species – and found that disease and loss of natural habitat was having a devastating effect.

They found that populations of nine species, including hedgehogs, water voles, hazel dormice and even rabbits, have declined in the last 20 years.

Hedgehog numbers have fallen by two-thirds since the previous estimate in 1995.

Otters, on the other hand, have flourished since the banning of pesticides which poisoned their river homes.

Pine martens, polecats and badgers are recovering from former persecution.

Deer, which have no natural predators in the UK, have increased in number. Beavers and wild boar have also returned to British shores since the last time such a study was completed.

But even some of the species doing better since the 1990s are listed as being at risk of extinction.

The study, commissioned by government agency Natural England, examined 1.5 million records of mammals across Britain, mapping where mammals are found and estimating their population.

It assesses their risk of extinction against internationally agreed criteria.

Twelve of 58 was said to be threatened with extinction across Britain, but a lack of data means the true figure is likely to be higher.

Disease and loss of habitat are the most common threats but the nathusius’ pipistrelle bat is at risk of collisions with wind turbines and there are concerns about the impact of hunting on mountain hares.

Fiona Mathews, chairwoman of the Mammal Society and professor of Environmental Biology at the University of Sussex, warned that Britain is on a little bit of a precipice.

We have a few winners – the deer and carnivores – but if you look beyond the deer and the carnivores, it’s difficult to see many native species that look like they’re are doing well or increasing.

We need to stop thinking of wildlife as something that happens somewhere else, and we just put a ring around it, and that’s all your animals sorted.

The idea of tiny nature reserves, national parks and so on is a bit of a worry because most of the British landscape isn’t like that.

Most wild animals move over a wide distance, and we need to make sure we have connective landscapes, we have places throughout Britain where animals have a home.

(c) Sky News 2018: One in five mammals facing extinction