National Hedgehog Survey

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What is the National Hedgehog Survey?

Long-term monitoring programmes coordinated by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) have indicated that hedgehogs have declined markedly within Britain over the last two decades (State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2011), prompting the species to be listed as a species of principal importance in England (NERC Act 2006, Section 41).

This decline is potentially linked to a range of factors including:

  • Agricultural intensification: modern agriculture is associated with practices that are likely to have negatively affected hedgehogs, such as the destruction of hedgerows to create larger fields and the application of chemicals which might reduce the availability of invertebrate prey.
  • An increase in badger numbers: badgers are the only species that can unroll and kill hedgehogs and their numbers have increased >85% since the mid-1980s.
  • An increase in road density and traffic volume: roads and road traffic pose two problems for hedgehogs. First, collisions with vehicles is one of the most common forms of mortality in hedgehog populations. Second, roads may also act as barriers to the movement of hedgehogs, isolating populations and making them more vulnerable to localised extinctions.
  • Climate change: changes in climatic conditions during the summer could reduce the ability of hedgehogs to accumulate sufficient fat reserves prior to hibernation, whilst changes during the winter might make them more likely to emerge from hibernation when there is little or no food available. Furthermore, localised flooding is also likely to pose a risk to hedgehogs which are breeding or hibernating.

To date it has been difficult to quantify the effects of some of these factors on hedgehog populations because of the absence of a reliable survey technique at the appropriate spatial scale. However, a recent pilot study by The Mammal Society, the University of Reading and Nottingham Trent University has demonstrated that footprint-tunnels meet this need.

Therefore, there is now the opportunity to conduct a national scale survey of hedgehogs in England and Wales. Overall, we want to survey a minimum of 400 sites across England and Wales during the summers of 2014 and 2015.

The National Hedgehog Survey is being conducted by University of Reading and Nottingham Trent University, in collaboration with British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

What is the survey aiming to find out?

The objectives of the survey are:

  • To determine the presence / absence of hedgehogs in rural habitats across England and Wales using footprint-tunnels.
  • To quantify the relative importance of different factors such as habitat features, land management practices and badgers, on the presence / absence of hedgehogs in rural habitats across England and Wales.
  • To establish a baseline measure of hedgehog occupancy at a national level in England and Wales against which future changes can be measured.

Get involved

To complete the National Hedgehog Survey we are looking to enlist the help of volunteers to survey pre-selected sites across England and Wales.

Please note that this survey requires a commitment to monitor 10 tunnels over five consecutive nights in a 1km square that will be allocated to you; you will also need one extra day to arrange your survey with landowners.

Surveying can take place any time during May–September inclusive in 2014 or 2015. All equipment will be provided. Read further details about what’s involved and see our FAQs.

Register to volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering, please email the survey coordinator Emily Thomas at hedgehogsurvey@ptes.org. When contacting us, please ensure that you include your postcode as this will be used to identify the survey square closest to you.

Due to the large number of enquiries we have received it may take us a week or two to get back to you, but we will be in touch as soon as possible.

Thank you.

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