Sunday, 19 June 2016

Hedgehogs continue to disappear from British gardens, wildlife survey shows

RSPB campaign urges gardeners to do one thing to help wildlife this summer after survey reveals rise and fall of familiar species

Tuesday 14 June 201605.01 BST Last modified on Tuesday 14 June 201610.00 BST

Gardeners are being urged to do more to help hedgehogs this summer after new figures showed that fewer people than ever are seeing the once-familiar species.

Results from the from the RSPB’s citizen science survey showed that only 25% of people see hedgehogs in their garden at least once a month, around three percentage points less than last year and than in 2014.

The number of people who have never seen a hedgehog in their garden rose again to 24%, up around three percentage points since 2014. A similar survey by BBC Gardeners’ World magazine in February found the number of people who saw hedgehogs in their gardens last year had fallen by 10%.

The rapidly declining UK hedgehog population is estimated to number less than 1 million, down from more than 30 million in the 1950s. One-third of this loss is thought to have taken in the past 10 years. A 2015 report found rural populations had declined by at least a half and urban populations by up to a third since 2000. 

Their long-term but poorly understood decline is attributed to the loss and fragmentation of their habitat in Britain’s towns and countryside, death on roads, and intensive farmland that provides few good foraging or nesting sites. Rising numbers of badgers, their natural predator, have also been cited as a possible cause.

Jill Nelson, CEO of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said: “One reason for the hedgehog decline is lack of roaming space to find food and mates, as typically hedgehogs need to travel up to a mile a night, so interconnected continuous habitat is crucial ... Unless we are prepared to make an effort as individuals, data suggests that hedgehogs face an uncertain future.”

petition to raise the level of legal protection by Conservative MP Oliver Colvile and backed by Britain’s hedgehog charities has now gathered nearly 38,000 signatures.

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