Seeing red for hedgehogs

HEDGEHOGS are now officially on the Red List of endangered species published by the Mammal Society in July 2020. They are categorised on the list as Vulnerable to Extinction, which means there is still sufficient numbers for the population to return to healthy numbers again. 

But that is purely up to us. We have been responsible for their decline and if we don’t act now, hedgehogs could soon be lost forever. Our children, their children and all future generations will learn about hedgehogs in the same way that we learn about woolly mammoths and dinosaurs.

Hedgehogs face many dangers and need our help. Loss of suitable habitat in the countryside has driven them into our towns and villages as their last refuge. Here they face problems with rats, rodenticides, dog bites and increased risk of traffic accidents. The latest figures for hedgehog road traffic accidents (RTAs) has been estimated at between 167-335,000 hedgehogs killed annually in Britain.

Many people across the rural county of Dorset are going out of their way to help the hapless hedgehog. Inspired and led by the Dorset Mammal Group, residents in towns and villages are developing hedgehog friendly streets by making holes in, or under, garden fences and walls for hedgehogs to pass through. 

Gardeners are also encouraged to adopt hedgehog friendly activities by not using slug pellets and leaving areas of rough ground where hedgehogs can forage.  Log and brushwood piles are being created for hedgehogs and many residents are offering supplementary food and water. 

In addition to these measures, which anyone can do, there is a growing army of volunteer hedgehog rescues, carers and rehabilitators, looking after sick, injured, orphaned or underweight hedgehogs across Dorset. 

The Mammal Society has estimated that hedgehogs may have declined by as much as 73% in the last 20 years. Please help your town or village to become more hedgehog friendly, and if you care about hedgehogs and want to help them, get in touch with the Dorset Mammal Group at hedgehogs@nulldorsetmammalgroup.org.uk

Photograph © Colin Varndell