New research shows St Albans is not immune from declining hedgehog population
- Credit: Supplied by Peter Oakenfull
New research indicates that hedgehog populations are declining around St Albans district and Hertfordshire.
In the first systematic survey using footprint tracking tunnels to monitor rural hedgehog populations in England and Wales, the spiky animals were only found at 21 per cent of 261 sites between 2014 to 2015.
Monitors were placed near Tyttenhanger and to the south west of Wheathampstead, as well as to the west of Welwyn, north of Stevenage, between Sandon and Kelshall, between Wild Hill and Bell Bar, and near to Wormley West End.
The research also found that badgers were not present at many sites.
Primary author of the paper and PhD student at the University of Reading, Ben Williams, said: “We found that although hedgehogs were generally widely distributed across England and Wales, they were actually found at a worryingly low number of sites.”
Writers of the research believe the declining numbers of both hedgehogs and badgers may be down to a land management issue, climate change, or both.
The paper, Reduced Occupancy of Hedgehogs in Rural England and Wales: The Influence of Habitat and an Asymmetric Intra-guild Predator, was published in Scientific Reports.
- 1 Sainsbury's comes to St Albans station
- 2 Bowmans Cross development shelved as Hertsmere pulls Local Plan
- 3 So why WAS police helicopter flying over St Albans last week?
- 4 What is being done to tackle fly-tipping scourge?
- 5 Frustration and anger over St Albans school's change to hairstyle and uniform policy
- 6 Who was the witch of St Albans?
- 7 Landowners advised to step up security following spike in fly-tipping across Hertfordshire
- 8 Return of the Fred Hughes delights runners and organisers St Albans Striders alike
- 9 Wholefoods shop relocates to offer wider range of produce
- 10 Staying silent: the tight-lipped MP who refuses to answer controversial questions
Ben continued: “Perhaps more importantly our results indicate that a large proportion of rural England and Wales is potentially unsuitable for both hedgehogs and badgers to live in.
“Given the similarity in diets of the two species, one explanation for this could be the reduced availability of macro-invertebrate prey (such as earthworms) which both species need to feed on to survive.
“This could be as a result of agricultural intensification and climate change.”
He also noted that hedgehogs are increasingly using human habitats, such as gardens, as a refuge.
The paper was led by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Reading, and funded by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Grants Manager at PTES, Nida Al-Fulaij, added: “Badgers are what’s known as ‘intra-guild predators’, meaning they predate hedgehogs but also compete with them for food resources. This naturally makes their relationship complex, which we already knew, but until now we didn’t realise the extent to which changes in the landscape were affecting both species.”