Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Last hedgehogs in central London 'survived by learning to avoid roads'

Small population in Regents Park is clinging on and appears to have learnt to keep clear of the busy roads that are one of the main causes of their decline

Lewis Smith

Tuesday 2 June 2015 08.57 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 2 June 201511.11 BST

The last hedgehogs to live in a central London park have survived because they have learnt to avoid busy roads, a study suggests.

Hedgehogs were once common across the UK but have suffered a steep decline in the past 60 years, with deaths on the road one of the biggest problems.

Central London, with its heavy traffic, has experienced one of the biggest declines with few hedgehogs now surviving there. In Regents Park, however, a small population is clinging on and they appear to have learnt to keep clear of the busy roads that are one of the main causes of their decline.

Clare Bowen, of the Royal Parks Foundation, said: “We’ve tagged a number of animals and we’ve got a very good idea of where they are going. We don’t have any indication of them leaving the park at all or crossing any of the main roads.

“We don’t have any records of squashed hedgehogs around Regents Park. All this would suggest they steer clear of busy roads.”

In the other four Royal Parks – St James’s, Hyde and Green Park, along with Kensington Gardens – none are known to survive. In the 1970s hedgehogs were known to live in all five of the main central London parks.

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