Top naturalists to converge on Suffolk

Badgers and the controversial badger cull will feature in the mammal conference in Ipswich on Februa

Badgers and the controversial badger cull will feature in the mammal conference in Ipswich on February 24. Picture: ALAN BALDRY - Credit: citizenside.com

Ipswich is to host a major conference that will study the many challenges facing the UK’s mammals.

A muntjac deer extends its tongue - the rise of UK deer populations will be discussed at the mammal

A muntjac deer extends its tongue - the rise of UK deer populations will be discussed at the mammal conference in Ipswich on February 24. Picture: PAUL ANSELL - Credit: Suffolk Wildlife trust

Some of Britain’s leading naturalists are heading to Suffolk for a conference that will shed light on the many modern-day challenges faced by the UK’s mammals.

Topics ranging from badgers to Brexit and from deer to drones and dormice will be studied at the event being organised by Suffolk Naturalists’ Society and its Suffolk Mammal Group.

Highly acclaimed author and natural history journalist Patrick Barkham will tackle the conference’s most controversial issue - his presentation is entitled A Brief History of Humans and Badgers - and Bovine TB. It will include a discussion about the latest science and data relating to the Government’s highly controversial badger cull.

The rapid recent population increases of the six species of deer that live in the East of England, and their effects on the natural and farmed environment, will be discussed by David Hooton, the deer liaison officer for the Deer Initiative.


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Pine martens and polecats are returning to much of their former UK ranges after decades of persecution, the latter having now reached Suffolk in increasing numbers. The spread of both species will be discussed by Lizzie Croose, the Vincent Wildlife Trust’s mustelid conservation officer.

Natural England officers Paul Cantwell and Dr Matt Heydon will set out the current legislation and protection afforded to English mammals and discuss what the “legislative picture” might look like post-Brexit.

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Other speakers taking part will include Suffolk county bat recorder Alan Miller, Dr Tom August, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Dr Rowena Langston, of the Little Ouse Headwaters Project, Ipswich hedgehog officer Ali North and Suffolk county mammal recorder Dr Simone Bullion.

Suffolk’s rural and wildlife crime officer Lee Andrews-Pearce and Richard Woolnough, of the Suffolk Otter Group will also give presentations.

The conference - Of Mammals and Men - Challenges Facing Mammals Today - will take place at Wherstead Park, Ipswich, on Saturday, February 24. Tickets cost £13 for Suffolk Naturalists’ Society members and students, or £18 for non-members. Bookings can be made at www.sns.org.uk/pages/conference.shtml

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