A Hedgehog conservation area (of 90ha) has been established by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Solihull Metropolitan Council, comprising the WWT’s Elmdon Manor nature reserve and the council’s Elmdon Park. The project is funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Hedgehog Officer, Simon Thompson, extends an invitation to Solihull’s residents to participate in a large scale citizen-science project to map and monitor hedgehog distribution and abundance across the town. He said: “I’m really proud to be working on a project which has its feet so firmly grounded in grass-roots conservation. Local people and businesses have the opportunity to be involved with every level of the project. Whether getting hands-on with habitat management or borrowing a remote camera to conduct a survey in a back garden, everyone can get involved, ultimately helping to secure a bright future for hedgehogs in their community.”
Through engaging the community the project hopes to engage the Hedgehogs too! The project aims to improve the connectivity of this urban environment by ensuring that there are enough small gaps and holes in barriers such as fences that hedgehogs can shuffle and snuffle around without let or hindrance between good feeding areas and nesting sites.
Fay Vass, Chief Executive, British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said: “We are delighted to be funding such an exciting and important project in Warwickshire that will hopefully benefit many hedgehogs. Simple measures such as ensuring there is a five inch square gap in boundary walls and fences make a massive difference to local hedgehog populations. There are many ways people can assist this declining species and we hope this project will complement our work to highlight the plight of the hedgehog.”
Stephen Trotter, The Wildlife Trusts’ Director, England, said: “The once common hedgehog is now under threat from development and habitat loss caused by loss of hedgerows and the intensification of our agricultural landscapes. Across the UK individual Wildlife Trusts are working hard to restore habitat to benefit species like the hedgehog – and there’s much we can do in our own back yards to help. Combined, our gardens provide a space for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves, so by gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can all help our spiny companions to find a home and move safely between habitats to find mates and food.”
When did you last see a Hedgehog – it’s been a while for me? I haven’t seen one in my garden for a few years and yet they used to be fairly regular visitors. And now I think about it, I don’t see nearly as many of them squashed on the road as I used to.
In the 1950s there were an estimated 30 million Hedgehogs in the UK whereas they were down to 1.5 million by 1995. The decline in the 1990s was thought to be about 40%, judged by falling numbers of road kills. That is some decline and is likely to be caused by a combination of increased Badgers numbers (as they take the odd Hedgehog for sure), increased road traffic (as they squidge some Hedgehogs for sure), reduction in quality of the farmed landscape and possibly a decline in the quality of urban environments from the point of view of Hedgehogs. It will be interesting to see whether thi9s project can engage enough people and enough Hedgehogs to make a difference.