Badger & hedgehogs
Some facts from People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Oxford University Study and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). PTES and BHPS position statement on the relationship between hedgehogs and badgers:
Hedgehogs are preyed upon by badgers and badgers compete with hedgehogs for food according to research at the University of Oxford and elsewhere. The two species have coexisted in Britain for several thousand years, but national badger surveys in the 1980s and 90s conducted by the University of Bristol showed then that the badger population had increased significantly in that period. Whilst it is likely that where badger numbers are high the number of hedgehogs will be low, there is no evidence that badgers are the single most important factor affecting hedgehogs today.
Hedgehogs rarely encounter badgers in urban areas, but they are declining just as severely in these places as they are in the wider countryside. Moreover, the rate of this decline is not related to the presence of badgers at particular urban sites.
In rural areas, hedgehogs are declining severely even in parts of the country with low badger densities (e.g. East Anglia). It is clear that several interacting pressures are at work. Bolstering hedgehog populations would be better achieved by increasing and improving habitat, for example: restoring hedgerows to improve shelter and nesting opportunities; managing field margins and grasslands in ways that encourage abundant and diverse invertebrate prey.
Current discussions about whether or not to cull badgers are a proposed response to the spread of bovine TB and are not related to hedgehog numbers or conservation.
Fay Vass, of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said that badgers were only part of the problem.
"The main reason numbers are falling is the loss of habitats and the fragmentation of their habitat." she said.
"They like to roam two miles each night, but there are more walls and fences to block their way."