CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Country Smallholding today CLICK HERE

Hedgehogs 'facing extinction in 15 years'

PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 August 2011 | UPDATED: 08:37 28 March 2014

AUG 19, 2011: Hedgehogs could disappear from Britain within 15 years, a new study has found.

Once commonplace across the country, they are among 10 indigenous species to have suffered the most dramatic decline over the past century.
It is estimated that there are now around one million hedgehogs in Britain, representing a decline of 25 per cent over the past decade. In some parts of the country, the fall could be as high as 50 per cent.
Such is the rate of decline that the long term survival of the hedgehog in Britain is now in doubt.
It joins, among others, the black-tailed godwit, cuckoo, red squirrel and natterjack toad on a list compiled by researchers on behalf Eden, a digital natural history channel.
The study was led by Toni Bunnell, a retired zoology lecturer, whose team compiled the league table of species under threat based on how fast their population was dwindling.
Dr Bunnell, who runs a hedgehog sanctuary near York, cited a number of reasons for the decline in the population.
“Pesticides have eliminated much of their food such as caterpillars and beetles. Then there has been a reduction of habitat in the countryside which they are having to share with predatory badgers,” she told The Daily Telegraph.
“They have moved into residential areas where the problems they face are rat poison, strimming and mowing. They are also being rapped in netting where they suffer horrific injuries and have to be put to sleep.
“They used to be able to go from one garden to another for food, but because of fencing they can’t do that any more.”
In addition about 50,000 hedgehogs a year are run over by motorists, while others are drowning in garden ponds.
Much could be done to save the hedgehog, including providing food and water, using wildlife-friendly slug pellets and removing trailing netting.
Dr Bunnell voiced alarm that many animals which were now disappearing.
"I cannot remember the last time I heard a cuckoo, for instance, which used to be one of the iconic sounds of the British countryside.
"We have managed to link population numbers with rates of decline to estimate species most under threat for the first time.
"There are a number of issues of course, including some in other countries when it comes to migratory birds, but if there was one above all others that needs to be addressed I would say it is habitat loss.”
The decline in other creatures has been similarly stark. For example there has been a 90 per cent fall in the number of turtle doves, a migratory bird, in Britain since 1971, while the black-tailed godwit population has fallen by 33 per cent in just the last 15 years.
Such is Whitehall’s concern about the fall in the toad population, that the Department for Transport has decreed that they are a "biodiversity priority species" and has allowed councils to extend the time migratory toad crossing road signs can be put up by one month.
According to the Eden study the top 10 list of endangered species in the UK is:
1 Red-necked phalarope
2 Black-tailed godwit
3 Scottish wildcat
4 Capercaillie
5 Cuckoo
6 Red squirrel
7 Turtle dove
8 Natterjack toad
9 Brown hare
10 Hedgehog




0 comments

Interact with other smallholders and post your questions

Visit our forums


More from Land

Friday, September 7, 2018

Although Britain’s record-breaking heatwave has now been broken by rain storms, the impact of the prolonged tinderbox dry summer following a longer than usual winter is likely to continue throughout this year and into next, writes Kim Stoddart

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ask the experts: during the hot weather, here’s how to preserve dwindling water supplies

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines what smallholders-in-waiting need to consider when buying their first property

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Liz Shankland continues her guide to improving herd productivity, this time investigating the importance

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The long run of sunshine and dry days of summer 2018 is impacting smallholders and their livestock and crops

Read more
August 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

Our guide to getting your lice and mite treatment up to scratch

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines the rules and regulations for smallholdings. This month: medicine records and fallen stock

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

The countryside is not immune to crime - in fact, it’s increasing

Read more
July 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

Jack Smellie looks at what to do when lambing and kidding doesn’t go to plan

Read more
April 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

Smallholder Tim Tyne advises on the treatment of lambs which are hypothermic

Read more
April 2018

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Country Smallholding monthly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

This Year’s Shows

Country Smallholding cover image

Don’t miss our comprehensive guide to rural events

Find out more

Like us on Facebook


Follow us on Twitter