Tell Ratty! Weasels, otters and badgers enjoy an ‘incredible’ revival

Tell Ratty! Weasels, otters and badgers enjoy an ‘incredible’ revival after a crackdown on hunting and toxic pesticides

  • Stoats, badgers and otters are enjoying an ‘incredible’ comeback in the wild 
  • The animals were said to be on the brink of extinction less than 50 years ago 
  • A new environmental study revealed the numbers of wild British carnivores
  • The numbers of stoats and weasels in the countryside are believed to be rising 

At this rate, the British countryside will soon look like a revival of The Wind in the Willows.

Stoats, badgers and otters are enjoying an ‘incredible’ comeback less than 50 years after they were said to be on the brink of extinction.

Numbers of wild carnivores, also including the polecat and pine marten, have soared since the 1970s.

Weasel numbers (above) are also believed to be rising. Scientists from Exeter University, Vincent Wildlife Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology analysed the numbers of wild British carnivores for the study [File photo]

Reductions in hunting, trapping and the use of toxic chemicals is thought to have helped the recovery.

There are an estimated 11,000 otters in the wild, while the badger population has doubled since the 1980s. 

Numbers of stoats and weasels are also believed to be rising, however their numbers are less clear.

Scientists from Exeter University, Vincent Wildlife Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology analysed the numbers of wild British carnivores – many of which feature in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. 


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There were no figures, however, for one of his most beloved characters – Ratty the water vole.

Katie Sainsbury, of Exeter University, said: ‘Carnivores have recovered in a way that would have seemed incredibly unlikely in the 1970s … Most have essentially recovered by themselves, once pressures from predator controls and pollutants were reduced, and it’s taken them a while.’

The only mammal now at risk is the Scottish wildcat, following interbreeding with feral and domestic cats.

Reductions in hunting, trapping and the use of toxic chemicals is thought to have helped the recovery. The badger population has doubled since the 1980s [File photo]

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