Using cameras to count hedgehogs
We urgently need to find the best methods for studying hedgehogs. This will help us concentrate our conservation efforts where they are most needed.
Hedgehog numbers are dropping fast across the UK. In our towns and cities, and on our farmland, our native hedgehogs are under threat. In order to help those most in need we need to know how many there are, but counting hedgehogs is hard.
Helping hedgehogs in the most effective way
Sadly our hedgehogs face many different problems in different areas. Larger fields, fewer hedgerows and less invertebrate food all combine to make life difficult for rural hogs. In urban areas, more roads, more traffic, less green space and impenetrable barriers can all cause hedgehogs problems. We must help but, in order to do so, we really need to know how many hedgehogs there are in an area. If we know this, it means we can start to intervene when numbers are low, before it is too late. We can also measure whether what we’re doing to help is working. But counting hedgehogs is hard.
New method to count hedgehogs
That’s where Jess comes in. Jess Schaus, at Nottingham Trent University, is using a method called the Random Encounter Model to see if we can accurately count hedgehogs in a set area. This complicated method involves putting out lots of camera traps in an area, and moving them around every few days so that images are taken of the entire space. Then clever calculations are carried out, including measuring how fast the hedgehog is moving. We hope this method will become a much-needed tool to help our other efforts to help hedgehogs.
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