Here is a Guest Blog from Broadwater-based Hedgehog Street Champion, Catherine Amey
We know that hedgehog populations are in decline. The reasons are complex and research is ongoing but what is becoming clearer is that habitat fragmentation is a pressing issue. The increasing use of impenetrable fencing around gardens, which reduces the movement of hedgehogs between gardens, has almost certainly lead to fragmentation of urban hedgehog populations and is likely to have contributed to declining numbers. Other issues affecting the urban environment include increased traffic and use of pesticides.
In more rural areas of Sussex, it is likely that the decline has similar roots to the widespread haemorrhaging of farmland biodiversity – industrial farming destroys plant diversity, and thus invertebrates, and everything that eats them. The landscape is being simplified on many scales. Due to agricultural intensification, there has been around a 50% decline in hedgerows in rural Britain since 1945. Hedgerows provide ideal locations for hedgehog nesting sites as well as being important movement corridors. The scale of the loss of hedgerows will certainly have had an impact on rural hedgehog populations.
The best thing you can do to help? Link your garden with others. We can make hedgehogs’ life a little easier by removing garden barriers within our control – for example, by making holes in or under our garden fences and walls for them to pass through. The gap need only be 13x13cm or 5 inches square and so will be too small for most pets.
Other simple tips include:
- Avoid slug pellets (they are poisonous to hedgehogs)
- Create hedgehog friendly garden features such as log piles and compost heaps
- Check any piles of wood or garden refuse for a nesting hedgehog before burning a bonfire.