Petition for ‘hedgehog highways’ could save mammal from extinction | Nature | New

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Hedgehogs have declined by 95% since the 1950s (Image: Brian Lawless/PA)

One of the main causes of their disappearance is the fragmentation of the landscape because of fences, said conservationist Hugh Warwick. His Change.org petition calling for new home developments to include “hedgehog highways” – a hole at the bottom of a fence that allows animals to roam freely between gardens – has raised more than 1.1 million. signatures.

The 13cm x 13cm hole means the critters could find food, water and a mate.

He called on the Department of Housing and Planning to make hedgehog freeways a legal requirement for new construction.

Hugh said: “There may have been a drop in hedgehog numbers of over 90% since the end of World War II – it’s catastrophic – the nation’s favorite wild animal is dying. eclipse.

“The government doesn’t help, it’s members of the public who work hard to help individual hedgehogs through rehabilitation centres, and also by supporting the work of campaigns like Hedgehog Street.

the petition for the hedgehog highways has collected more than 1.1 million signatures

A petition for hedgehog highways has garnered over 1.1 million signatures (Image: Danny Lawson/PA)

“I personally started a petition on Change.org pushing for a change to the Planning Act, to have hedgehog freeways built into all new housing estates – and just to prove how hedgehogs are popular, there are over a million signatures so far.”

“Can we save the hedgehog? Yes, we can – and we will. Because we love this weird and quirky animal so much.

At least 54% of the people who created the highways reported an increase in hedgehog activity, according to a study from the University of Reading.

And a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust project found a 39% increase in hedgehog sightings after people built highways.

The Daily Express Green Britain Needs You campaign has called on people to help make room for nature.

Grace Johnson, hedgehog manager for the Hedgehog Street campaign, said the hole “is not a problem”.

She added: “The hole is too small for most pets to escape. A lot of people think there are no hedgehogs around because they are nocturnal creatures, they are outside. when we sleep, so we don’t necessarily see them.

“But if your yard isn’t accessible, that’s probably why you haven’t seen them.

“They’re found in urban areas, so chances are they’re in the area, and you just haven’t seen them.”

Hedgehog Street is a joint campaign of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).

The Duchess of Cornwall holds a hedgehog

The Duchess of Cornwall holds a hedgehog (Image: Chris Jackson/PA)

In urban areas, hedgehog populations are stabilizing and showing signs of recovery.

But on the other hand, the rural populations remain weak. Over the past two decades, the numbers have continued to decline by one-third to three-quarters nationally.

The biggest falls are seen in the eastern half of England, according to a report by BHPS and PTES.

Their report said, “Hedgehogs have been around here for at least half a million years. But they might not survive in our natural environment for many others.

“Britain is one of the most nature-poor nations in the world and wildlife continues to disappear. The reasons for the decline in hedgehog populations, apparent over the last twenty years or more, are not yet fully understood. .

“Pointing the finger at a single cause, such as predation by badgers or roadkill, likely misses the bigger, more complex picture.”

Some major developers have started to help by including hedgehog highways in their plans, but the holes are currently not mandatory.

Hugh said: “This simple decision would have a big impact on UK hedgehogs – and it’s cheap and easy for developers to make.

“So I call on the government to ensure that every new housing estate is built in these hedgehog highway holes.”

“It will allow gardens to be connected, creating the pathways they need to survive.”

13cm x 13cm hole means critters can find food, water and a mate

13cm x 13cm hole means critters can find food, water and a mate (Image: Ben Birchall/PA)

A government spokeswoman said: “We are clear developers need to do more to protect our cherished species – including hedgehogs – when building new homes, and since 2019 our developer guidance has recommended features like than hedgehog highways and the use of hollow fast bricks. for birds to nest safely.

“We are strengthening environmental protection at all levels through environmental law and planning system reforms.”

There are a number of things you and your neighbors can do to help save hedgehogs.

  1. Connect your garden to hedgehog highways by creating a 13cm x 13cm hole in your fence. This allows creatures to access as many gardens as possible, for food, water, and a mate.

  2. Create a wild corner by leaving part of the garden untouched. This will provide nesting materials and prey insects for the hedgehogs.

  3. Leave food and water outside. Meaty cat or dog food will supplement a hedgehog’s natural diet of scary critters. Also, don’t forget a shallow dish of clean, cool water.

  4. Make a house for the hedgehogs by leaving a pile of logs outside. This will provide a safe nesting site for the hedgehogs.

  5. Remove bedding and tie loose garden netting to prevent hedgehogs from becoming entangled and trapped.

  6. Stop using chemicals, as lawn treatments and slug pellets reduce invertebrate numbers and can cause direct damage.

  7. Secure ponds by having shallow sides or a ramp so hedgehogs don’t get trapped.

  8. Check areas of your garden carefully before using equipment such as lawnmowers or brushcutters.

Biggest declines in hedgehogs seen in eastern half of England

Biggest declines in hedgehogs seen in eastern half of England (Image: Supakrit Tirayasupasin/Getty)

COMMENT BY GRACE JOHNSON

We love hedgehogs here in the UK; you can find them on tea towels, stationery, mugs, and even jewelry. But despite our love for them, real-life hedgehogs are sadly rarer than their pictured counterparts.

Hedgehogs have struggled in recent years, with threats such as roads, lack of habitat and depletion of insect prey making their lives increasingly difficult.

A recent report by two UK wildlife charities, People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, looked at hedgehog population trends.

‘The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022’ has discovered that after losing a third of our urban hedgehogs over the past 20 years, things could be changing for our thorny neighbours. Evidence shows that their populations appear to be stabilizing and even showing signs of recovery.

    Hedgehog Street is a joint campaign of PTES and BHS

Hedgehog Street is a joint campaign of PTES and BHS (Photo: Oksana Schmidt/Getty)

While this news is a beacon of hope and a rare conservation achievement, our work is not done. When considering this seemingly positive news, it is important to remember what came before; general declines.

Our rural hedgehogs have unfortunately not been so fortunate and remain the area of ​​greatest concern, with up to 75 percent having disappeared from certain areas of the countryside since the millennium.

Fortunately, there are ways we can all help the humble hedgehog; simple changes to our gardens and green spaces which, as the return to the urban in the report shows, can make a huge difference.

In 2011, the same two wildlife charities joined forces to tackle the alarming loss of British hedgehogs.

They created the Hedgehog Street campaign, to raise awareness of how we can all be hedgehog champions and do our part to help.

The “hedgehog highway” is one of the key elements of the campaign.

Hugh Warwick's Change.org petition calls for new housing developments to include hedgehog highways

Hugh Warwick’s Change.org petition calls for new housing developments to include hedgehog highways (Photo: James Osmond/Getty)

Gardens are a vital refuge for hedgehogs, but they have to be able to enter them! We can create this access with 13cm x 13cm gaps in or under fences and walls, and encourage neighbors to do the same.

Creating wildlife-friendly features, such as log piles, leaf piles, and compost piles, and ditching chemicals will provide a hog-friendly tourist lodge.

Shallow dishes of clean, cool water can also be a lifesaver for hedgehogs and other garden wildlife, as our summers get hotter and drier.

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still help by contacting local green space managers such as councils, schools and golf clubs, encouraging them to step up and make positive changes on their land for the hedgehogs.

A final call is to “think hedgehog” in the garden. Brush cutters and lawnmowers can inadvertently kill or cause horrific injuries to hedgehogs. Adding a thorough check to your gardening to-do list could save a life!

Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Agent at Hedgehog Street

For more information and to become a Hedgehog Champion, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org

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