In July this year, a study conducted by the Mammal Society concluded that one of the very few animals that almost anyone in the UK can recognise has declined by so much that it should now be considered Vulnerable to Extinction.
The first official Red List for British Mammals, produced by the Mammal Society for Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage (NatureScot) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, shows that 11 of the 47 mammals native to Britain are classified as being at imminent risk of extinction.
One of those is the Hedgehog. Research shows that the population of the UK’s Hedgehogs has fallen by as much as 50% in the last twenty years, putting one of our most best-loved animals on the same risk level as the Hazel Dormouse, Orkney Vole, and Serotine and Barbastelle Bats.
Loss of habitat, collisions with vehicles, and roads and fences acting as barriers to the movement of hedgehogs, (which isolate populations and make them more vulnerable to local extirpation), are thought to be the principle factors impacting the species.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) has called on the government to take wildlife seriously. (As we reported last week, the government has at least taken one positive step, banning the outdoors use of metaldehyde, the active ingredient in slug pellets, to ‘protect wildlife’ (which of course includes hedgehogs). They also praised the work that people are doing in their own gardens to help.
“What people do on behalf of the hedgehog is amazing,” Fay Vass, CEO of the BHPS, said. “The holes made in fences, the feeding, the hedgehog houses, the wildlife friendly planting, the removal of hazards – all makes such a difference locally. But it is not enough to rely on the good will of individuals to protect this important creature. We need the government to enforce wildlife-friendly practices. From farming to development to transport – wildlife needs to be taken seriously.”
Perhaps easier than adapting a garden but potentially as important, an epetition has been launched by BHPS’s Fay Vass.
Please ask the government to ‘Protect the UK’s dwindling hedgehog population before it’s too late’ by signing the petition at this link. The petition is live until April 2021.