Hedgehog numbers have declined by half since 2000, report reveals

Leon the Hedgehog enjoys the sun at St Tiggywinkles
Leon the Hedgehog enjoys the sun at St Tiggywinkles

The number of hedgehogs living in the British countryside have plummeted by more than half since 2000, according to a new report.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs.

Counting the nocturnal animals is difficult but the data that exists shows the hedgehog is in long-term decline. There are perhaps just a million left, representing a 97% fall from the 30m estimated to have roamed in the 1950s.

More recent years have seen better surveys and confirmed the ongoing loss of the species. The new report, produced by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), analysed a series of surveys undertaken by their members.

Andrea Small, of leading wildlife hospital St Tiggywinkles in Haddenham, said: “At Tiggywinkles over the past couple of years, our intake of hedgehogs has increased.

“Especially the quantity hedgehogs that have been too small to hibernate, our intake over this period has seen over a 100% increase.

“However, this is not necessarily a reflection of their population and survival in the wild, it is entirely possible that as people have become more aware of the plight of the hedgehog, and they know how to identify whether a hedgehog is in trouble and that it needs taking to a wildlife hospital.

“Additionally, we see hedgehogs who sadly are brought in sick or injured from situations that can be easily avoided.

"Lifting up football goal netting overnight and when not in use, providing a ramp in garden ponds, hedgehogs are good swimmers, but steep sided ponds can be fatal for them.

"Being careful and mindful when gardening, every year we see hedgehogs with injuries from garden forks, strimmers and also very sadly their nests that have babies in being destroyed.”

For more information on the work of Tiggywinkles go to www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk