The inclusion, today, of the hedgehog in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List for British Mammals is not a surprise for us at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). We have been at the heart of research that has charted the demise of the nation’s favourite animal.
The recognition of the vulnerable status of the hedgehog is, however, an opportunity. It will give impetus to those of us campaigning to protect the habitats that the hedgehog needs to thrive, and increase the awareness of the importance of connecting those habitats.
This has been central to the campaign Hedgehog Street – which we run in partnership with People’s Trust for Endangered Species. All over the country people are working in their gardens to help wildlife – and we are encouraging them to connect those gardens with small 13cm square holes.
“What people do on behalf of the hedgehog is amazing,” said Fay Vass, CEO of the BHPS. “The holes made in fences, the feeding, the hedgehog houses, the wildlife friendly planting, the removal of hazards – all makes such a difference locally.”
“But it is not enough to rely on the good will of individuals to protect this important creature,” Fay continues. “We need Government to enforce wildlife friendly practices. From farming to development to transport – wildlife needs to be taken seriously.”
The BHPS is calling on Government, in the light of this new internationally recognised classification, to increase the protection offered to the hedgehog under the Wildlife and Countryside Act by moving it to schedule 5, allowing the level of protection appropriate for such a keystone species in decline.