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I’m very well aware of what their feeding habits are having worked with these animals both in a rescue capacity and a research capacity for many years. Yes, the food put out for them is supplementary but given the ridiculous weather we are having these days often there is very little natural food for them to eat especially when that is coupled with gardeners spraying and poisoning every living thing in their garden. Often all that is left are slugs, slugs give them lungworm and lungworm kills.
Putting food out all year round allows the hogs to come and get it when they need it. This is especially important during the winter when many of them hibernate without enough reserves to take them right through the winter, they will come out to eat after using remaining energy to wake up. They are in dire straits if they have to walk huge distances trying to forage with no guarantee of any food at the end of it.
The programme recently, and the report in the papers about hogs being overweight was based on an observation of a single wildlife rescue with no research backing it up. Some hedgehogs were coming in early in the year larger than we would normally expect to see but they were not overweight, they were still able to fully curl. This is far more likely to be due to two warm winters where they did not hibernate at all but were able to carry on foraging.
As to cats eating the food, not if it’s provided in a cat-proof, fox proof feeding station which is something that most rescues and hospitals advise.