Hedgehog numbers ‘down by half’, warn wildlife groups

Latest news

    HedgehogImage copyright PA
    Image caption Hedgehogs live in hedgerows and gardens

    Hedgehogs are continuing to decline in the UK, according to a new report.

    Surveys by citizen scientists show hedgehog numbers have fallen by about 50% since the turn of the century.

    Conservation groups say they are particularly concerned about the plight of the prickly creatures in rural areas.

    Figures suggest the animals are disappearing more rapidly in the countryside, as hedgerows and field margins are lost to intensive farming.

    But there are signs that populations in urban areas may be recovering.

    David Wembridge, surveys officer for the conservation charity, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), said two surveys of the number of hedgehogs in gardens and one of numbers killed on roads show an overall decline.

    But he said there is “a glimmer of hope” that measures to create habitat for hedgehogs in urban areas are paying off.

    “Numbers haven’t recovered yet but in urban areas at least there’s an indication that numbers appear to have levelled in the last four years,” he said.

    In rural areas, the number of hedgehogs killed on roads has fallen by between a third and a half across Great Britain, The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report found.

    Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for the campaign group, Hedgehog Street, said the apparent decline in the rural population of hedgehogs was “really concerning” .

    Image caption Loss of their hedgerow habit has hit hedgehogs hard

    The loss of hedges and copses to create larger fields has resulted in fewer nesting sites and less protection for hedgehogs, she said.

    “This kind of barren one-crop landscape has removed the amount of area that hedgehogs can live in,” said Ms Wilson. “The large-scale pesticide use has reduced the amount of food for them to eat – there are fewer invertebrates.”

    Rough estimates put the hedgehog population in England, Wales and Scotland at about one million, compared with three million in the 1950s.

    The groups behind the report, the PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society say farming communities can help to halt declines.

    The village that made itself hedgehog friendly

    Can you help save the hedgehog?

    Airlines get tough on ‘support pets’

    Measures to reduce pressures on hedgehogs include providing more field margins, hedgerows and scrubby areas for the animals.

    A trial putting wildflowers strips through the middle of fields to encourage insects that prey on crop pests, thereby reducing pesticide use, may also benefit wildlife such as hedgehogs.

    And, with the UK leaving the European Union, ministers have indicated that a redesign of the subsidy system could see a shift away from payments for land owned to rewarding wildlife protection.

    A Defra spokesperson said: “Hedgehogs are one of the UK’s most treasured animals with an important role in our heritage and natural environment.

    “We remain concerned about the decline in their population, and through our 25 Year Environment Plan we’ll be creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat to provide benefits for species such as hedgehogs.”

    Householders are also being encouraged to help hedgehogs by putting out wet cat and dog food, leaving wild areas for them to nest and making holes in the fence to enable them to move from garden to garden.

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42959766

    Follow Helen on Twitter.

    In the same category are

    New Zealand women hit record T20 score of 216 against South Africa Susie Bates hit 16 fours and three sixes in here unbeaten 124 at TauntonWomen's T20 tri-series - England v South Africa & New ZealandVenues: Taun...
    Heineken Champions Cup: Holders Leinster draw Wasps, Toulouse & Bath Leinster beat Racing 92 15-12 to win their fourth title in MayHolders Leinster will face three other former winners in Pool One of next season's Hein...
    World Cup 2018: Portugal 1-0 Morocco It had to be him! Brilliant Ronaldo scores in fourth minuteCristiano Ronaldo headed Portugal's winner as Morocco became the first team to be knocked ...
    Disney increases bid for Murdoch’s Fox assets Image copyright Getty Images Disney has increased its offer for 21st Century Fox to $71.3bn in cash and shares, up from an earlier $52bn offer.The m...
    Mall sorry for turning away orphans at Eid Image copyright Ruhmaa Benahm Image caption After this group of war orphans were prevented from entering from a luxury mall in Baghdad, the centre...
    Northern rail: ‘Ministers warned of timetable chaos’ Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionLisa Nandy says ministers were warned of "impending chaos" The government knew Northern ra...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.