A new report published today by People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) shows a continuing decline in hedgehog numbers, in both rural and urban landscapes.
The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2015 follows 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.
The loss of hedgerows and intensive farming in rural areas, along with tidy fenced-in gardens in urban and suburban locations, are just some of the threats contributing to the demise of hedgehogs.
PTES and BHPS are working to ensure the long-term survival of this iconic native animal and are also launching today a joint, 10-year conservation strategy for the hedgehog in Britain. This report has been developed in consultation with leading experts, NGOs and statutory bodies and is designed help plan conservation action up to 2025.
“Hedgehogs are important because their presence indicates a healthy environment. To see a generalist animal like this decline is very ominous because they are in many ways so tolerant of human activity,” explains Henry Johnson, Hedgehog Officer. “On the flip side, it’s encouraging to know that whatever we do to help hedgehogs will also benefit other wildlife.”
The two wildlife charities are also appealing for more volunteers to join Hedgehog Street, which encourages people to connect their gardens and other green spaces to improve hedgehogs’ access to food, shelter and mates. Since its launch in 2011, Hedgehog Street has inspired over 36,000 volunteers to create hedgehog-friendly neighbourhoods, by linking up their gardens and green spaces.
|How to help hedgehogs
Log on to www.hedgehogstreet.org and:
· Become a Hedgehog Champion and find simple advice on making your garden and neighbourhood more hedgehog-friendly
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NOTES TO EDITORS
- Wildlife charities PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in June 2011 to encourage hedgehog conservation action at a local community or neighbourhood level. Over 36,000 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. hedgehogstreet.org
- 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.
- In the early part of the 20th century, hedgehogs were probably abundant throughout Britain. By 1995 the population size was estimated to be about 1.5 million (1.1 million in England, 0.31 million in Scotland and 0.145 million in Wales).
- 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.
- The charities’ Hedgehog Street garden at the 2014 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show won Gold and People’s Choice in the summer garden category.
- The Day of the Hedgehog is the first UK summit on hedgehogs in a decade. Taking place on 21 November 2015, top experts in conservation will explore the issues facing Britain’s favourite wild animal in the 21st century.
About PTES – www.ptes.org
PTES is a UK conservation charity created in 1977 to ensure a future for endangered species throughout the world. Working to protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, it provides practical conservation support through research, grant-aid and educational programmes, including wildlife surveys, publications and public events.
About BHPS – www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
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.