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Hedgehog Hibernation Survey kicks off this week

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Credit: Steve Heliczer

Gardeners are being asked to help monitor hedgehogs, one of Britain’s most endangered species, as research has revealed that their numbers are falling even faster than previously thought.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) are asking gardeners to record sightings of these nocturnal visitors for the Hedgehog Hibernation Survey which starts this Friday, following findings that hedgehog numbers have declined by more than a third in the last decade.

From 2003 to 2012, records of hedgehogs in urban and suburban green spaces, fell by 37 per cent according to the PTES Living with Mammals survey. It is hoped the Hedgehog Hibernation survey, which began last year, will reveal more about the creature’s patterns of behaviour, which in turn will help inform practical conservation action. The survey will also be used to monitor whether climate change is having any impact on hedgehog hibernation patterns.

PTES chief executive Jill Nelson says: “Last year, more than 2,000 volunteers helped collect the biggest dataset on hedgehog hibernation habits ever recorded.  What we urgently need is more information at the local level to help us better understand the challenges faced by the nation’s hedgehogs.”

The reason for the hedgehog’s decline is not fully understood but is thought to be related to an increase in intensive farming with the associated loss of hedgerows and permanent grassland; greater use of pesticides which has reduced the amount of prey available; smaller gardens and the use of fencing which prevents hedgehogs from moving around and finding sufficient food.

To join in this year’s Hibernation Survey which runs from 1st February to 31st August, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org

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