The Bad News
The UK's hedgehogs are in trouble. Since the 1950s, numbers have declined from over 30 million to fewer than 1 million today. And the numbers keep dropping. Since 2000, populations have fallen by at least half in the British countryside, and by nearly a third in urban areas.
Why are hedgehogs declining so dramatically?
Simplified to a single word, the main driver of the decline is humans. Our species is destroying, degrading, and fragmenting their habitats as well as poisoning their food supply with extensive pesticide usage. At least 100,000 hedgehogs are killed on roads each year, accounting for 16% of all road casualties.
In rural areas, loss of hedgerows to accommodate intensive agriculture leads to diminished prey availability, inadequate protection from predators, and insufficient nesting sites for rearing young.
In urban areas, fences between properties serve as impermeable barriers between gardens which may otherwise provide suitable habitat havens. Additionally, swimming pools and steep-sided ponds can turn into the watery graves of any hedgehogs that accidentally fall in if there is no means for them to escape. Lawnmowers, strimmers, and bonfires can also fatally wound unsuspecting hedgehogs if people are not cautious.
The Good News
It is not yet too late! Whilst populations continue to decline at around 5% per year nationally, trends seem to show a slight decrease in the rate of decline in urban areas in recent years. As people make their gardens and communities hedgehog-friendly, populations are slowly starting to recover in certain areas.
Join the movement and help #AmazingGrace make your community hedgehog-friendly!