Why are hedgehogs declining?
This issue is not a straightforward one as there could be many factors that are contributing to the decline of hedgehog populations. This is further complicated by populations declining in both urban and rural habitats where the pressures and changes in the environment are very different.
Research is underway to teach us more about why hedgehogs are declining and what we can do about it
PTES and BHPS are currently commissioning various research projects into the reasons for their decline and measures that could be taken to reverse the effects.
⚫ Widespread use of pesticides reduces the invertebrates hedgehogs eat
⚫ Larger field sizes makes it difficult for hedgehogs to move around the landscape
⚫ Hedgerow management by flailing now leads to the hedges with gappy bases, poor for nesting
⚫ Intensive management of pastures with herbicides and fertilizers reduce the amount of invertebrates
⚫ Increasing badgers – the main natural predator – may have an effect where habitat is already degraded
⚫ Permanent pastures are also lost to the plough
⚫ Impermeable garden fencing and walls limits the area of connected land available
⚫ Gardens lost to car parking or decking directly reduces foraging area
⚫ Busy roads cause mortalities and they can also disrupt dispersal routes for hedgehogs
⚫ New developments usually lack any connectivity between gardens
⚫ Hibernation habitat, typically scrubby or
brambly areas, are frequently lost through overmanagement or development
⚫ Over-tidy gardening can remove dead wood, replace foraging areas with drives and decking and clear away overgrown corners
⚫ Use of pesticides and slug pellets can poison animals and kills the invertebrates ‘hogs eat