TWO of Britain's leading wildlife research organisations have joined forces for the first time to monitor the nation's wild mammal population - and they are appealing for volunteers to help the work.
They are the Government funded Mammal Society and the British Trust for Ornithology, which has been counting bird numbers with the help of up to 35,000 voluntary bird watchers and is now throwing its experience into fur as well as feather.
Researchers need the help of volunteers to answer questions like are water voles are going to survive the threat of extinction or if grey squirrel numbers are on the increase.
Chairman of The Mammal Society, Professor Stephen Harris says: "The Winter Mammal Monitoring project provides an excellent opportunity for everybody who is interested in wildlife to contribute to our understanding of Britain's mammals.
"Volunteers will be asked to visit an area near their home looking for any mammals that they see and any signs of mammals such as footprints or droppings that they can find."
One volunteer already at work is Vicky Harrison, who said: "I went out with my Dad to an area near where we live which had a canal, a bit of scrubland, part of the local park and a school playing field in it. Although it wasn't very rural we had a really nice walk and saw three feral cats, two grey squirrels and a red fox. I am looking forward to going back again and seeing whether we can find any signs of water voles by the canal."
Director of the BTO, Dr Jeremy Greenwood, who is taking part in the project said "Information collected by the volunteers over the course of the project not only tells us about mammal populations in the UK but may also provide vital information about the state of Britain's countryside."
To volunteer for the Winter Mammal Monitoring project or for further information contact: The Mammal Society on 020 7498 4358 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the BTO on 01842 750050 or email@example.com