It's hedgehog awareness week this week, a good time to think about one way that your garden can be improved for hedgehogs. Improvements include no longer using slug pellets or cutting a hole in your fence to allow hedgehogs to move between gardens. It is also the week of the general election. Whilst deciding who to vote for remember that the leader of the Green Party actually highlighted the plight of the hedgehog in the UK at the party’s spring conference. Also, think about the agricultural policies which may affect hedgehogs in rural areas.
With its wrinkly nose, beady eyes, chill disposition, and hip haircut, the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is one of the United Kingdom’s most adored wild animals. People build houses and feeding stations for this little prickly mammal in their backyards, and some keep them as pets. Brits even voted in 2013 to declare the hedgehog their national species. But despite its popularity and the protections it receives under Britain’s Wildlife and Countryside Act, the hedgie’s numbers have been in steady decline for at least the last half-century. Three separate surveys estimate that fewer than a million of these precious pincushions remain. That may sound plentiful, until you realize that, since 2002, the hedgehog population in the United Kingdom has taken a 30 percent dive.