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Hi Paddy penn
First of all, I was really sorry to hear that Harry was killed by a badger. It was clearly very distressing for you and your wife and a difficult position you find yourselves in.
In the last few years two particular hedgehogs which visited here have lost their lives. The first a named breeding age female, was attacked by a dog which managed to get into my garden – not the dog’s fault, but it’s owner’s – it shouldn’t have been running around at night on it’s own. The second was attacked by a strimmer – used by a human. There is no knowing how many more hedgehogs have been killed as a result of action by humans. These two incidents were extremely distressing – all the more so because they were not natural events. But it was, and remains to be, my choice to name the hogs and get to know them as individuals, potentially leaving myself open to additional heartache.
One thing for sure is that it isn’t the badgers’ fault. Badgers might have more legal protection than hedgehogs, but it doesn’t stop them from being persecuted. Ultimately, most of the problems badgers have are caused by humans too. They are doing what comes naturally to them. I don’t believe hedgehogs are a prey species of choice for a badger and the fact that they are killing them, might indicate scarcity of other suitable food sources for them. The over-riding problem is lack of suitable habitat to support both hedgehogs and badgers. Your wildlife garden is a start, but there needs to be more. But we all need to accept that nature can be cruel. Wildlife kills each other, however distressing it may be for us.
So, what can be done about it? As I see it, the only thing you have control over is whether to stop the badgers getting into your own garden whilst still allowing access for hedgehogs. You could link as many other badger proof and wildlife friendly gardens as you can, so that the hogs don’t have any need to venture outside them. But it has to be their choice. They are wild hedgehogs and need to be free to come and go as they please. You cannot control what happens outside. You may have to let nature take it’s course which in the long run could possibly be that either you have badgers around or hedgehogs around, but possibly not both. Or, they may, with the help of your garden and others, reach some sort of balance where populations of both can live side by side.
You may already have seen them, but the following are two links re. badgers and hedgehogs from Hedgehog Street.