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A helping hand for hedgehogs
As someone who cares about wildlife, you’ll know that Britain’s hedgehogs desperately need our help. Over the past twenty years, hedgehog numbers have plummeted by a staggering 30%. In some rural areas it may be as high as 50%. Thanks to our Mammals on Roads survey, we now know that on average 100,000 hedgehogs are killed on our roads every year. In a population that’s already declining, road casualties are a huge cause for concern. Some loss of life due to traffic accidents may have once been sustainable in a much larger population of hedgehogs. But given the catastrophic decline they’ve experienced, losing around 100,000 hedgehogs a year is much more significant.
Hedgehogs are in trouble mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation, however in a declining population we can almost certainly say that road casualties have an impact. We just don’t know to what extent traffic is affecting our hedgehogs, or if existing measures such as road tunnels can provide a solution. As a leader in hedgehog conservation, we’re dedicated to helping Britain’s hedgehogs thrive again. To meet this challenge head on, we are using science to guide our efforts. This is why we’re funding exciting new research to study the impact that road traffic is having on our hedgehogs. Can you help us by making a gift to our hedgehog appeal today?
Together with Nottingham Trent University, we’re supporting hedgehog researcher Lauren Moore. Lauren and her team will investigate how roads and traffic are affecting our hedgehogs, both individual animals, and entire populations. Lauren will be working at twelve sites in the UK, six of which include road tunnels. A number of scientific approaches will be used to estimate population size. These include nocturnal surveys, tagging and tracking of hedgehogs, as well as genetic analysis of hair and droppings. Lauren will also monitor roadkill numbers, and evaluate if these are significant enough to cause a local population of hedgehogs to become extinct. This project will run for 3-4 years, so although Lauren’s fieldwork may be delayed due to restrictions, she will still have time to meet the study’s objectives and help our treasured hedgehogs.
Will you help fund this vital research to protect Britain’s hedgehogs by donating to our hedgehog appeal?
The study will also look at six sites with road tunnels of varying sizes, which animals use to cross under main roads safely. Lauren will set up camera traps at these tunnels to monitor how many hedgehogs are using them. This will tell us if the tunnels are effective in reducing hedgehog road mortality. They will also tell us if there are any particular features of the tunnels that mean they are used more.
The impact of road traffic on hedgehogs hasn’t been thoroughly investigated like this before. The results will be used to guide developers and planners in including features to practically promote hedgehog conservation for years to come.
Together, we can make a real difference for our beloved hedgehogs. Let’s stop a further decline of this iconic species, before it’s too late.
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