Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More on the plight of the WESTERN HEDGEHOG in the UK - could its demise really be down to the increase in Badgers

After processing Richard Broughton's comments and trying to understand the science behind his arguments, I phoned up one of the organisations charged with looking after many hundreds of injured, sick or poisoned Hedgehogs to see what they had to say. Having not the time nor the inclination to do an in-depth study before I put pen to paper unlike Richard, I have to admit that my statements were based on conjecture and a falasy of what I had come to believe was the key factor in their decline. It does look as though my comments were baseless - and I commend Richard for quickly pointing this out in a highly reasonable fashion. I raised the issue of slug pellets and was surprised at how little affect they do seem to be having on the UK Hedgehog population. I cannot thank the organisation highly enough and they spent some 40 minutes discussing the plight with me, and emailed me a lot of literature on the subject. This is a summary of the key points that were raised and gleaned from the respective information -:

The Mammal Society and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society now believe the UK population of Hedgehogs has crashed in recent years and it has even been suggested that they could become extinct in many places before the end of the decade. Little work has been done on the reasons for this steep decline, but it is very likely that loss of habitat, combined with the relentless toll of accidents, is a major factor in their decline. A number of reasons are put forward for the alarming and steep decline. One is intensive farming, with the loss of hedgerows and the increase in pesticides, depriving hedgehogs of their prey of slugs and insects. Another is increased vehicle numbers leading to increased road kills, and a third is urban development, with tidier gardens and better fences meaning urban populations of hedgehogs cannot move about, become fragmented and die out.

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