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UK hedgehog sightings on the rise after years of decline, survey finds | Animals

Hedgehogs have received some unexpected good news after years of declining numbers in British gardens due to habitat loss and fragmentation. That number may finally be on the rise again.

When readers of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine were asked to record wildlife in their gardens, they reported a 2 percentage point increase in hedgehog sightings. The magazine’s previous annual survey said they were in decline.

previous report They found that since 2000, mammal populations have declined by 30% to 75% in various rural areas. This is thought to be due to habitat loss and fragmentation – hedgehogs like to move around, but walls and fences prevent them from doing so – and that pesticides are killing the insects they eat. is also suggested.Toxic pellets ingested by slugs and snails and eaten by hedgehogs you can also kill them.

The annual survey asked respondents whether they had seen a hedgehog in their garden in 2023. Last year, 33% of respondents reported seeing a hedgehog in their garden, up from 31% in 2022. When asked about changes in hedgehog sightings compared to previous years, 21% of people who observed hedgehogs in their gardens this year either saw them for the first time in 2023 or more often than in 2022. I answered.

Recently, there has been a campaign in urban areas to leave parts of gardens “cluttered” with logs, long grass and plants so that hedgehogs can build nests and hunt insects. People also created ‘hedgehog highways’ – holes in fences for hedgehogs to roam.

77% of Gardeners World respondents said things like avoiding the use of slug pellets, checking for hedgehogs and other wildlife before pruning, and maintaining a natural or untidy garden. , responded that they are taking steps to improve gardens for wildlife in 2023.

In urban areas, 18% of respondents said they had seen a hedgehog in the past year, an increase of 2.7 percentage points from 2022. Meanwhile, in rural areas, 43% of respondents have observed a hedgehog in the past year, an increase of 1 point from 2022.

Faye Bass, CEO of the British Hedgehog Conservation Society, said: “While the Gardeners World survey is valuable, we must remember that these numbers are just a snapshot. Populations change from year to year, so these findings may not necessarily represent underlying trends. It doesn’t necessarily mean there are.

But she said data from the British State Hedgehog 2022 report, published by BHPS in collaboration with the People’s Trust for Threatened Species, showed that urban populations were largely stable and had recovered in some areas. This suggests that it may be starting to happen.

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Mr Bass said: “Our ‘Status’ report is the most comprehensive overview of the UK hedgehog population, and although the results give us cautious optimism, urban populations remain There are far fewer than there should be. Therefore, we need to continue to collect more data to understand how these populations and rural hedgehogs are changing from year to year, and to use hedgehog gardens as refuges. It’s essential that we continue to do community work such as “Hedgehog Champions”, so become a Hedgehog Champion and make your garden as hedgehog-friendly as possible.”

Kevin Smith, editor of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine, said: Our ongoing efforts to educate people about wildlife-friendly gardening, such as creating openings in fences and providing secluded spaces for nesting and hibernation, are part of our It helps turn the garden into a haven that hedgehogs have enjoyed for many years. ”

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