Tudors drove wildlife to the brink

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Millions of birds and animals were slaughtered in England and Wales under a Tudor law which is now being blamed for bringing many native species close to extinction.

While environmental change is generally held responsible for the damage to British wildlife, new research has revealed that the Tudors were actually responsible for reducing many native creatures to a critically endangered level. Species ranging from hedgehogs and water voles to choughs and dippers were systematically slaughtered.

'The impact has been catastrophic,' said Roger Lovegrove, former director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who has spent six years researching Britain's sustained and deliberate persecution of wildlife since the Middle Ages. In his book Silent Fields: The Long Decline of a Nation's Wildlife, Lovegrove draws up detailed, species-by-species accounts of the devastating impact humans have had on huge swaths of fauna from as far back as Tudor times.

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