Rural hedgehogs in decline

Two wildlife charities have released a report on the British mammal.

Rural hedgehogs in decline

Hedgehog populations are declining © DeAgostini / Getty


The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 has analysed the populations of the spiny British mammal, and found that there has been a severe decline in rural areas.

The new report, published by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), shows that at least half of the hedgehog population has been lost from the countryside in the last two decades.

“There are many reasons hedgehogs are in trouble,” explains Emily Wilson, hedgehog officer for Hedgehog Street, a project run by the two charities.

“The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

BHPS and PTES are planning to work with farmers, which manages roughly 70 per cent of UK land, to protect hedgehogs.

“Farmers play a vital role in producing food, but they’re also well placed to help protect, maintain and enhance our countryside,” continues Wilson.

“Many farmers already have a sustainable approach to agriculture, and we think there’s a great opportunity to work more widely with them to stem the alarming decline of our country hedgehogs.”

Hedgehog populations are also falling in urban areas, having fallen by a third in the same period.

However, the rate of decline is slowing in towns and cities, and populations could even be increasing in some locations. 


Hugh Warwick, an acologist, author and spokesperson for BHPS, writes about hedgehogs for the April issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine (on sale 14 March). 


Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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