Hedgehogs in Surrey and across the UK are now at imminent risk of extinction according to a new study that highlighted what scientists have called the Sixth Mass Extinction.

The survey was carried out by the Mammal Society and concluded that a staggering number of the UK's native mammal species — one in four — are now endangered and it "imminent" risk of extinction.

The 25 per cent of UK mammal species listed in the survey featured a number native to Surrey, including the hedgehog, water vole, Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat and harvest mouse among them.

Other iconic mammals native to Britain including the red squirrel, whose numbers have declined sharply from a disease spread by their "invasive" grey squirrel cousins from North America, were also listed in the study.

Surrey's Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF), a conservation and animal rescue group based in Leatherhead, told the Surrey Comet that the survey showed how important conservation efforts were to save these iconic native species.

CEO Simon Cowell said: “During lockdown people really started to reconnect with nature and notice the wildlife around them.

"The red list shows just how fragile wildlife in the UK is. We are classed as one of the most nature depleted nations in the world."

WAF take in vulnerable animals in Surrey like hedgehogs before releasing them back into the wild.

The charity said it treats "hundreds of injured and orphaned hedgehogs each year" and estimates that 200 young hedgehogs released back into the wild have the breeding potential to add 35,000 animals to wild populations within a decade.

“Wildlife Aid Foundation works seven days a week to give these animals a chance, but we cannot do it without support from the public.

"It costs us £1800 per day to run our hospital and rescue service and lockdown coincided with the busiest spring and summer we’ve ever seen. Our resources were stretch to capacity," Cowell said, asking the public for donations to keep their work going.

"As the figures released by the Mammal Society show, every single one of these endangered animals we can save will make a difference,” he added.

A recent study by the US National Academy of Sciences said the ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction "may be the most serious environmental threat to the persistence of civilization, because it is irreversible".

It also "reemphasised" the scientists' view of the "extreme urgency of taking massive global actions to save humanity’s crucial life-support systems."

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