One in Six European Mammals Faces Extinction

Iberian lynx

Europeans sure don't mince their words—or numbers, for that matter: One in six European land mammals faces the threat of extinction, mainly through habitat loss and deforestation, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), in a report for the European Union (EU).

The number is higher for marine mammals—nearly one in four—but even this could be an underestimate because we don't know enough about 44 percent of European marine mammal species.

According to the report, the Balkans, particularly Bulgaria and Romania, are most affected by a decline in land mammals, primarily because they also host the greatest number of species."The results of the report highlight the challenge we currently face to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010," said European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, referring to a commitment EU states made in 2002.

Already included on the IUCN's regularly updated "red list" of endangered species are six European mammals, including the Iberian lynx (pictured above), the Arctic fox, and the European mink.

You can blame habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation or wetland drainage, for posing the main threats to terrestrial mammals, followed by pollution and overharvesting. For marine species, save your boos for pollution, ship collisions, and accidental capture by commercial fishing boats, said the report.

Ironically, or perhaps tragically, yesterday was International Biodiversity Day. Yeah, let's go with tragic. Irony is for the birds. :: Reuters U.K.

See also: :: America Celebrates Endangered Species Day

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