Why are Tuemmler classified as mammals

Red list of mammals in Germany: gray seals like it quiet

A new listing by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation shows a third of the mammalian species as endangered. But there is also one or the other success.

The living conditions for the gray seal have improved in recent years Photo: imago-images

BERLINtaz | The gray seal is back. For several years now, Germany's largest predatory mammal has been colonizing habitats in the North and Baltic Seas from which it was previously driven. On the Red List of Mammals, which the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) presented on Thursday in Bonn, the species is now only classified as "endangered". Every ten years the BfN publishes an inventory of animals, plants and fungi, this year it's the mammals' turn. Your situation offers a “mixed picture”, said BfN President Beate Jessel.

Germany is home to 1.8 percent of the world's mammal species, 97 species live here permanently and have not been introduced; they are continuously monitored and counted, primarily by volunteer experts. In summary, the Red List of Mammals says that about a third of the species are safe - like the mole, deer or fox. Another third of the mammal species in this country is endangered. The remainder are either very rare in their populations, deserve special attention because they are developing negatively - or have already become extinct in the past 150 years, such as the bottlenose dolphin or the European ground squirrel, a rat-sized mammal.

The bat species gray long-eared bat, great horseshoe bat and nymph bat, the lynx and the minke whale are also threatened with this fate. 20 other species are endangered or critically endangered. The bats in particular suffer from a housing shortage. When building renovations, their passages and inlets would be closed, the loss of near-natural forests made life difficult for them, according to Jessel, because they needed old trees with caves. "We need more nature-friendly agriculture and forestry," said Jessel, "a decrease in land take and more nature-friendly fishing."

However, there are also species whose living conditions have improved in recent years. The Red List lists 17 species for which "environmental and nature conservation measures are effective," says Jessel. In addition to the otter and the wolf, this applies to the gray seal. The predators, which can weigh up to 300 kilograms, were helped above all by better water quality in the North and Baltic Seas, as well as newly established quiet zones.

As popular as wolves

The Föhr Seal Center therefore not only nurses 30 to 40 seals every year, but for several years has also nursed two to three gray seals who are found sick on the beach and brought to the center. Center director Janine Bahr-van Gemmert reports that the animals are brought to her, especially after violent storms, because the young animals have fluffy fur and have to lie dry for the first few weeks, in dunes or on rocks. “The gray seal is just as popular among fishermen as the wolf is among hunters,” says Bahr-van Gemmert, “they fear competition.” With the bycatch from the North Sea, all seals and seals in the North Sea could be used for a year feed for a long time, says the vet.

At the presentation of the Red List, the BfN once again referred to the importance of voluntary helpers. Not only around 50 professionals, but also hundreds of “species experts” would have made the species census possible with information and mapping. The BfN has been supporting the volunteers with a Red List Center since 2018. Nevertheless, there are still data gaps: The list does not make any statements about 6 percent of the species because data are missing. There is also a lack of data on how climate change affects the living conditions of animals.