By Shannon Budden
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University are assessing how many hedgehogs are killed on UK roads in an attempt to aid their declining population.
Conservationists believe that hedgehog numbers are falling due to a loss of habitats, increased competition and road deaths.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) reported in 2018 that hedgehog numbers in urban areas had fallen by 30%. Citizen science surveys also revealed that the hedgehog had suffered a population loss of 50% since the turn of the century.
The new study by Nottingham Trent is part funded by the PTES and will provide numbers of hedgehogs lost to our roads and how many remain in the area.
The study will help experts to gain a clearer view on whether some areas risk losing their local hedgehog populations, and which members of the hedgehog population are most at risk.
Research will also be conducted into potential solutions, such as whether building tunnels under roads can help reduce this decline.
Of the twelve sites that will be studied, six already have tunnels of different sizes which allow animals to pass safely under the roads.
So far, there has been a lack of research into the effect of these tunnels or what can be done to maximise their impact. There is also a lack of understanding of whether traffic affects the long-term viability of hedgehogs.
Whilst this study will provide potential solutions, there are also things that the public can do to stop the decline in hedgehog populations; creating access holes in garden fences, planting hedges, making hedgehog houses, checking long grass before strimming and avoiding the use of slug pellets are all things that experts say can help protect our hedgehogs.