Petition: increase legal protection for hedgehogs
A petition has been launched to increase the protection offered to hedgehogs by the law.
Why is there a petition?
The two main aims of the petition are to:
1) Increase the legal protection for hedgehogs, by putting them onto schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act
2) To recognise and promote Hedgehog Street
Will it help hedgehogs?
In a word, yes.
By including hedgehogs on schedule 5, it would potentially mean that all developers have a requirement to survey for hedgehogs. If hedgehogs are found on a plot destined for development, appropriate mitigation would be required by law. This would be a great step forward.
And obviously, the more people that know about and join Hedgehog Street the better. We have a target of 100,000 Hedgehog Champions by 2025!
If the petition is popular it will also raise awareness about the plight of the hedgehog, both among politicians and in general.
Will it save the British hedgehog?
Probably not. A complex range of interacting threats face hedgehogs, and using existing legislation alone is unlikely to be a 'magic bullet'. It could well be part of the solution however, alongside a better understanding of rural threats informing better rural land management, a smarter approach in infrastructure design, more action in existing gardens, and better amenity and greenspace management.
Give me some detail about the legal stuff!
Hedgehogs currently have a degree of protection from the law. They are listed on schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it illegal to capture or kill them using certain methods. They are also protected from cruelty through the Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996.
Crucially, none of this legislation is actually relevant to any of the key reasons for why hedgehogs are declining, and thus it has limited relevance for the conservation of wild hedgehog populations.