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‘Wake-up call’ as 40% of animals see numbers fall

MORE than two-fifths of UK animal species have significantly declined over recent decades, a study says.

Intensive agriculture and climate change are having a growing effect, the State of Nature report warned. Out of nearly 700 species, 41 per cent have seen decline since 1970, with 26 per cent increasing and 33 per cent witnessing little change.

Butterflies and moths have been hit particularly hard, with their numbers falling 17 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. And 15 per cent of plant and animal species risk being lost altogether from Britain, including wildcats and greater mouse-eared bats.

However, the report details some successes, such as the return of red kites, beavers and large blue butterflies.

Lead author Daniel Hayhow said: ‘We need to respond more urgently across the board if we are to put nature back where it belongs.’

And Tony Juniper, of government agency Natural England, called the figures ‘a wake-up call’.