Amazing Grace calls on the government to make hedgehogs an officially protected species and to limit activities which may disturb, degrade or destroy their habitats.
Our petition is put forth on the following grounds:
Hedgehog numbers have dropped from 30 million in the 1950s to fewer than 1 million today
Populations have fallen by at least 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas since 2000
Trends show an ongoing decline of about 5% per year nationally
Decline is largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation as hedgerow removal and new development projects isolate populations
An Open Letter to the Public
On behalf of the undersigned organisations, I write to bring to your urgent attention the matter of Britain’s declining hedgehog population and urge you to sign the petition in support of listing the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, as a nationally protected species with all of the rights and privileges granted thereto.
Population extrapolations put the total number of hedgehogs in the UK during the middle of the 20th century at about 30 million. Since then, the hedgehog population has fallen dramatically. By the 1990s, only about 1.5 million hedgehogs remained. Today that number may be under a million, and they are still declining by nearly 5% each year, and in rural areas, populations have fallen by at least 50% since 2000.
The causes for this decline are numerous and varied, but it can largely be attributed to human activity. One of the biggest drivers of the population decline is loss of habitat. Hedgehogs can be found in most ecosystem types in the UK, from woodlands to fields, with their ideal habitat being hedgerows and other areas which offer protective cover from predators and an abundant supply of invertebrates for food. As more land is cleared for development and intensive farming, these valuable habitats are lost, fragmented and made inhospitable to both hedgehogs and the invertebrates on which they feed.
Given unrestricted range, hedgehogs typically travel 1-2 kilometres or more in a single night when they forage for food. As developments are built, roads paved and fences erected, this range is reduced. Each of these obstacles forms an impenetrable barrier which can isolate different populations and sub-populations of hedgehogs and make each more vulnerable to further decline and eventual population extirpation.
Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust and founder of Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue has remarked on the hedgehog’s decline saying ‘It is the impact of man. We are losing so much of our flora and fauna and we need to act now.’
If current trends continue, Britain’s national species could be extinct in the UK by 2025. Already, thousands of people are reporting that they have stopped seeing hedgehogs in their gardens within the past few years, though they were once a common sight.
Now is the time to protect the hedgehogs. By listing them as a protected species, we can limit the habitat degradation that often coincides with development and ensure that human progress does not lead to inevitable doom for our country’s hedgehogs. Let us, together, send a message to our government and let them know that the hedgehog is a species worthy of saving, worthy of accommodating in our plans for road, building and community developments, and worthy of being granted protected species status.
Dr Brian May