Ulster Wildlife has teamed up with NUI Galway to better understand how hedgehogs are faring across the island of Ireland with the launch today (Tuesday 20 April) of the Irish Hedgehog Survey 2021. This exciting citizen science initiative is seeking hedgehog champions across Northern Ireland to get involved, to help conservationists find out more about this much-loved, but under-threat species.
Irish Hedgehog Survey 2021 launched today across island of Ireland
Volunteers are invited to conduct a survey in their local area between May and September. The methodology follows that developed by the Mammal Society of the UK which uses footprint tunnels to determine if hedgehogs are present in various habitats. Volunteers place 10 footprint tunnels within a 1km2 area for 5 nights and check them each morning for signs of hedgehogs. Estimates suggest that for every 30 hedgehogs in the UK in 1950, there is only 1 left in 2020. Tidy, fenced in gardens in urban areas and loss of hedgerows and intensification of agriculture in rural areas are just some of the factors contributing to this decline.
We know hedgehogs are in serious trouble across Britain and Europe and we believe the situation is similar here.Ulster Wildlife
Katy Bell, Senior Conservation Officer, with Ulster Wildlife, said: "We know hedgehogs are in serious trouble across Britain and Europe and we believe the situation is similar here. Many of us have noticed how little we see of them these days, especially in rural areas. However, one of the biggest issues we face in Northern Ireland is the lack of data on hedgehogs. By working together with NUI Galway, we hope to build a better picture of their numbers and distribution so, in turn, we can work to secure their future.”
The Irish Hedgehog Survey started last summer as a public sightings appeal, with people reporting sightings of hedgehogs in their gardens during lockdown but has been developed this year to cover much broader areas. The initiative forms part of the research Elaine O’Riordan from Zoology, School of Natural Science at NUI Galway is conducting.
“We have been delighted with the response to the Hedgehog Survey so far. People seem very interested in hedgehogs and care about them very much,” Elaine said.
“The aim of this year’s survey is to provide information on the types of habitats where hedgehogs occur, and where they don’t. We are hopeful that lots of volunteers will get involved and survey different types of habitats in urban and rural areas.
“We are very pleased to have teamed up with project partners from the county councils of Galway, Kilkenny Roscommon, Mayo, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City as well as the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Ulster Wildlife and Cork Nature Network. With their support we hope to train and mobilise teams of volunteers in these areas.”
This survey would be suitable for interested individuals, local wildlife or conservation groups and community and youth groups.
Workshops will be offered in Northern Ireland in early summer 2021 for interested persons to learn more about the survey and to provide volunteers with instructions and equipment needed. Given the current restrictions, workshops will be delivered online at first.
To register your interest, please complete the form below.
Full details of dates and locations will be available soon at www.ulsterwildlife.org/events
To access top tips and information on how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly, visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/hedgehogs