Hedgehogs on the Edge:
new report shows hedgehogs plummet by half in British countryside
At least half the population of our native hedgehogs has been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades, warn two wildlife charities in a report issued today, Wednesday 7 February 2018.
The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs. This new report shows that hedgehogs in rural areas are in severe decline, with their numbers plummeting by half since the Millennium.
“There are many reasons hedgehogs are in trouble,” explains Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street, a public action campaign run by BHPS and PTES. “The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”
However, with approximately 70% of land in the UK managed by farmers, BHPS and PTES are planning to engage with the farming community to help protect this iconic creature.
“Farmers play a vital role in producing food, but they’re also well placed to help protect, maintain and enhance our countryside,” continues Wilson. “The Government recently reiterated plans to reform the EU Common Agricultural Policy to reward landowners for delivering environmental benefits. Many farmers already have a sustainable approach to agriculture, and we think there’s a great opportunity to work more widely with them to stem the alarming decline of our country hedgehogs.”
Whilst The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report highlights a worrying decline in our countryside, it shows a more positive outlook for hedgehogs in our towns and cities: although the species has declined by a third in urban areas since 2000, the rate of decline is slowing. Hedgehogs are not disappearing from urban green spaces as rapidly as they were fifteen years ago, and might even be returning. Where they are found, numbers too, appear to be growing in some places.
It is exciting to think that the combined efforts of thousands of volunteers who have joined Hedgehog Street and pledged to make their gardens more hedgehog-friendly, may be making a difference. PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to inspire the British public to help hedgehogs and other wildlife that depend on their gardens and, so far, over 47,000 Hedgehog Champions have signed up to help.
Wilson concludes: “Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, so we need more people in those locations to sign up as Hedgehog Champions. Hedgehogs are a generalist species, so the more people can do to help them in their own back garden, the more they will also benefit other wildlife.”
|How to help hedgehogs
Visit www.hedgehogstreet.org and:
· Become a Hedgehog Champion and find simple advice on making your garden and neighbourhood more hedgehog-friendly
· Pledge to make a small hole – no bigger than a CD case – in your garden fence, wall and other barriers so that hedgehogs can access different gardens in their search for food, shelter and mates
· Log your ‘hog sightings – dead or alive – on The BIG Hedgehog Map
To receive a copy of The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, or to receive images, contact: Susannah Penn or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviews can be arranged with:
– Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer, Hedgehog Street
– Jill Nelson, CEO, PTES
– Fay Vass, CEO, BHPS
– Hugh Warwick, ecologist and author, BHPS
Notes to editors
About Hedgehog Street
- Wildlife charities BHPS and PTES launched Hedgehog Street in June 2011 to encourage hedgehog conservation action at a local community or neighbourhood level. Over 43,000 volunteer “Hedgehog Champions” up and down the country have registered to help to date and the campaign is ongoing, but we still need your help to make a difference.
- The charities’ Hedgehog Street garden won Gold at the 2014 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and People’s Choice Award in the summer garden category.
- Visit hedgehogstreet.org for more information.
- PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events. Our current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards, native woodlands and wood pasture and parkland.
- Visit ptes.org for more information, or follow PTES on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ptes) and Twitter (@PTES).
- BHPS is a UK charity founded in 1982 dedicated to helping & protecting hedgehogs native to the UK. They run a helpline offering advice on caring for & encouraging hedgehogs in the wild and in gardens. They aim to educate the public on how best to help hedgehogs and fund research into the behavioural habits of hedgehogs to ascertain the best methods of assisting their survival.
- Visit britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information, or follow BHPS on Facebook (www.facebook.com/hedgehogsociety) or Twitter (@hedgehogsociety)
- The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2015 report followed the first comprehensive review of the status of hedgehogs nationally in 2011. Since this first report, several ongoing surveys, by PTES and others, have shown a continuing population decline. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2015, publicised at a special UK summit on hedgehogs, paints a stark picture: since 2000, records of the species have declined by half in rural areas and by a third in urban ones.
- An independent study (The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs) commissioned by PTES and BHPS from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in September 2010 established clear scientific evidence of the decline in hedgehog populations across the UK. In 2013, PTES also published a long-term trend analysis based on their Living with Mammals and Mammals on Roads surveys which showed that hedgehog populations have plummeted by over a third in the last ten years.
- The reasons for the decline in UK hedgehog numbers are complex but are thought to be associated with the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands; the intensification of agriculture and larger field sizes; and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available. Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, but the move towards tidy, sterile gardens isolated from one another by impermeable boundaries has also contributed to their demise.
- A range of academic research projects, funded by PTES and BHPS, also aim to further scientific understanding about the causes for the decline in hedgehog numbers and most importantly what can be done to reverse this threat to this iconic species.
- The hedgehog was voted as Britain’s National Species in a 2013 BBC Wildlife poll and Britain’s Favourite Mammal in the 2016 Royal Society of Biology poll.