Why do hedgehogs need protecting?
Hedgehogs are disappearing across Britain and Europe and we believe the situation is similar here in Northern Ireland. We have all noticed how little we see them these days. Sadly, for some of us, the only time we will ever see a hedgehog is following a collision with traffic.
For every 30 hedgehogs in the UK in 1950, there is only 1 left in 2020.
As well as increased road traffic, our prickly friends are under pressure from habitat loss, agricultural intensification, land development and slug pellet use.
But there is hope. A recent UK report indicates that the decline in our towns and cities may be slowing, suggesting the actions that people are taking in their own neighbourhoods could be making a real difference.
This makes it even more important that we start taking action here in Northern Ireland before it’s too late. Giving hedgehogs space to thrive as well as building a better picture of their numbers here in Northern Ireland is essential.
In Ireland the hedgehog is classed as Least Concern on the IUCN red list but this is due to the fact that the species is data deficient, they are now classed as Vulnerable to Extinction in Britain. There have been huge declines in Britain and Europe and it is estimated that there is a similar situation in Ireland.
Hedgehogs face many pressures and threats; loss of habitats from agricultural intensification and development leading to loss of hedgerows, wild spaces and suitable gardens. They are under threat from road development and increased traffic. The use of slug pellets in gardens has fatal consequences for hedgehogs and they are also prone to drown in garden ponds.
Protected under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985.
How is Ulster Wildlife helping?
One of the issues we face here in Northern Ireland is the data deficiency around hedgehogs. Over the coming year we plan on increasing our baseline knowledge of their numbers in Northern Ireland, through annual surveys in conjunction with the Irish Hedgehog Survey. Stay tuned to our social media channels where we will be showing you how you can contribute to the annual survey.
In addition to this Ulster Wildlife provides the public with information, support and advice on helping hedgehogs in our neighbourhoods - both on our website and through advice calls and emails to members of the public
By working together we can build a better picture of their numbers in Northern Ireland and in turn, can help secure their future.
How you can help hedgehogs
Gardens are an all important habitat for hedgehogs as adult hedgehogs travel between 1-2km per night over home ranges between 10-20 hectares in size searching for food and mates – that’s entire housing estates and neighbourhoods! By gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can help our spiky companions move around safely and find a home.
Make your garden a hedgehog haven
Download our FREE 'Get creative for hedgehogs' booklet for more information and inspiration of what you can do to help hedgehogs.
Watch Katy, our Senior Conservation Officer, as she outlines our Top 10 tips to help hedgehogs.