Shockingly hedgehogs have declined in Britain as fast as tigers worldwide. We are protecting the precious hedgehogs we have left and finding out what’s causing their demise to take action before it is too late. This is where you come in...
The sad state of our nation’s hedgehogs was revealed by our own mammal surveys and supported by the findings of other wildlife organisations. However with our partners, British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), we are reversing the decline of hedgehogs through a number of urgent campaigns- all of which you can play a vital role in:
Become a Hedgehog Champion
Get involved with Hedgehog Street where you will find everything you need to know about helping hedgehogs right on your doorstep. Join over 32,000 Hedgehog Champions making their neighbourhoods hedgehog-friendly.
Holes for ‘hogs
Last summer our Hedgehog Street garden, designed Tracy Foster, won a gold medal and the People’s Choice Award at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Our garden illustrated how easy it is for anyone to help hedgehogs not matter what type of garden you have, by creating holes for hedgehogs.
You can join our campaign by pledging and mapping a hole for ‘hogs.
National Hedgehog Survey
The decline of hedgehogs is potentially linked to a range of factors associated with the intensification of agriculture historically, the presence of badgers, an increase in road density and traffic volume, and aspects of climate change.
A recent pilot study, funded by BHPS and ourselves, has demonstrated that footprint-tunnels are an effective, reliable way of surveying hedgehogs. We are using these footprint tunnels to do a National Hedgehog Survey to find out how much of an impact some of the suspected causes of the decline are having on hedgehogs.
We are looking for dedicated people across England and Wales to help us assess where hedgehogs are found and why they may be absent.
Read more and register your interest to be a volunteer in the next National Hedgehog Survey.
As soon as the scale of the decline was evident, we commissioned research to discover why hedgehogs are in such trouble. With this knowledge, we can understand how best to combat the threats faced by them. The results will be reported at a conference in 2015.
You can help with our studies by joining in one of our surveys in your garden, on the road, or in the wider countryside.
See our initial findings about the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs.
Hedgehog facts and reasons for their decline
The reasons are complex. Likely factors are the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, larger field sizes, use of herbicides and pesticides and a reduction in the quantity and quality of hedgerow habitat.
Badgers are a natural predator of hedgehogs, who actively avoid sites where many badgers are present.
Urban and suburban areas are increasingly important for hedgehogs, but the move towards tidy, sterile gardens has also contributed to their demise. Suburban habitat is broken up by fences and roads, pushing hedgehogs into unsustainably small areas.
View our hedgehog fact file.
PTES and BHPS statement on hedgehogs and badgers
Several studies have demonstrated that badgers will kill hedgehogs, but they also eat many of the same prey items (especially worms). The same food cannot be eaten twice. Badgers are both a predator and a species competing for food.
The recent controversy regarding culling of badgers concerns the vexed question of how to control bovine TB in cattle and badgers. Since badgers represent a threat to hedgehogs, see above, British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) has been urged to support badger culls as being potentially beneficial to hedgehogs.
None of the scientific evidence supports the idea that culling badgers is an effective means of controlling bovine TB. Recent trial culls (2012, 2013) failed to kill sufficient animals for the cull to have been effective (despite extending the length of the trial) and raised doubts about the humaneness of the method. Given this, BHPS and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) join leading wildlife scientists in arguing against a cull of badgers to control bovine TB.
An analysis of the original badger culling experiments, published in April 2014, shows that, at some sites, hedgehog numbers did increase following reduction in the number of badgers. However, sample sizes were small and results were uncertain at some sites. BHPS and PTES do not consider this sufficient evidence to advocate culling badgers as a means of increasing hedgehog numbers, and believe that culling any species in an effort to conserve another is undesirable given better environmental approaches.
Hedgehogs face many other challenges and it would be wrong to focus on this issue and distract from others. There is a pressing need to support hedgehogs in urban areas, some of which may offer a refuge from badgers. It is particularly important to focus on the barriers created by walls and impermeable garden fences and the consequent fragmentation of the hedgehog population. The progressive loss of suitable feeding areas through intensive gardening or inappropriate management of amenity grasslands are also major issues about which we can take action with direct beneficial effect to hedgehogs and many other animals. Indeed over 32 000 Hedgehog Champions have pledged to do so via Hedgehog Street, our drive to create hedgehog-friendly neighbourhoods.
Ways to help...
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