Where have all the hedgehogs gone? shutterstock
When the humble hedgehog was crowned “Britain’s national species” in a BBC Wildlife Magazine poll and “Britain’s favourite mammal” in a Royal Society of Biology poll, no doubt, sentimentalised memories of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, played a role in swaying public opinion.
Ecologist and author Hugh Warwick explained how:
Beatrix Potter managed to sprinkle some magic over the hedgehog, transforming it into the irresistible companion of our gardens.
But despite their popularity, hedgehogs are now something of a rare sight in British gardens – and are in fact disappearing at the same rate as tigers worldwide. Rural hedgehogs in the UK have halved in number since 2000, while urban hedgehogs have declined by a third. More widely, UK hedgehog numbers have dropped from an estimated 30m in the 1950s to under a million today.
So what’s to blame? We are. Well, the changing lifestyles and tastes of people, to be precise. Farming methods have changed dramatically over recent years – becoming increasingly intensive. This has led to the removal of many hedges, an important habitat for the British hedgehog. It has also had negative implications on their main diet of worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes.
The country’s roads are also busier. Hedgehog road deaths are estimated to exceed 100,000 a year in Britain. Road networks also cut through habitats leaving hedgehogs isolated, while our gardens are increasingly becoming more humanised. Lawns have been turned into tarmac for cars, foliage has been torn out, decking added, garden borders peppered with slug pellets, and hedges replaced by impenetrable fences and walls. All of which mean that hedgehogs are not only losing their habitats, but also their chances of survival.
Hedgehog friendly gardens
The plight is such that the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to encourage people to champion the species and its habitat.
At the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2014, designer Tracy Foster made Hedgehog Street a reality, creating a summer garden to demonstrate “how neighbours can work together to help hedgehogs by providing routes through garden boundaries”. Sharing slogans such as “no one garden is enough” and “make a hole, make a difference”, the hedgehog haven won People’s Choice for Best Small Garden and the coveted RHS Gold medal. The first permanent Hedgehog Street garden was unveiled at RHS Harlow Carr, in North Yorkshire in April 2017.
“The two lead partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial – the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) – have warmly welcomed today’s (21 November 2016) announcement from the Scottish Government that the Eurasian beaver is to be formally recognised as a native species, 400 years after being hunted to extinction in the UK.”
Anti-cull campaigners have been saying for years that it is poor animal husbandry and poor hygiene on farms, not to mention extended overwintering of cattle in sheds, that has brought about increased bTB in cattle; but why listen to logic when spending millions of tax payer money on culling our native wildlife appeases farmers of their own guilt?
Now the science is out! It has now been demonstrated that it is infected pasture and faeces that is perpetuating bTB in cattle.
Did anyone see the latest episode of #Countryfile? Or #Countryfail, as it is now being dubbed.
This is the interview they SHOULD have shown, words courtesy of Mark Ian Avery. Instead, we get pro-shooting, pro-hunting BBC biased propaganda on #Countryfile. What a shame we have very little honest, informed reporting on upland, grouse shooting, land management issues, and instead such biased rubbish from the tax-payer-funded British Broadcasting Corporation.
The countryside as we know it is an artificial construct, so claiming that townies “don’t understand the countryside” is absolute rubbish. Anyone with a basic understanding of ecology knows that ‘land management’ and predator ‘control’ destroys delicate ecosystems. These people have created their own niche playground, destroying native wildlife at every turn to maintain it for the benefit of the few, and then having the audacity to claim they are custodians of the land. Time for a massive overhaul.
“More than 30 slaughterhouses are refusing to let official vets view CCTV footage of animals being killed, prompting concerns that they are hiding illegal acts of cruelty.”
Why? It does not take a genius to work this out. And what are “illegal acts of cruelty” anyway, in contrast to legal acts of cruelty? Vivisectionists commit legal acts of cruelty as a matter of course. Why are we as a species still perpetuating this abominable treatment of other animals every single minute of every single day? Don’t be a part of it. It’s not logical, it’s not ethical, it’s not ok.
I’m fascinated by these stunning birds. Their soaring, floating habits and their haunting call always stops me in my tracks and makes me peer up into the sky so that I can admire them from afar. The buzzard is yet another bird of prey previously brought to the brink of extinction in the UK by the hunting/shooting/fishing fraternity because they were deemed detrimental to the entirely unnatural but profitable (to a few) activity of moorland grouse shooting and pheasant shooting. On any relatively sunny day, I see buzzards soaring over my workplace, which is located between agricultural and non-agricultural fields. Two years ago we had a number of pairs of buzzards at this location. This year there is only one pair. There could be many reasons, but it is a rural location right near a farm and I regularly hear a shotgun firing on an afternoon.
I do not want to live in a country where non-native species, bred purely for a barbaric “sport” (who are going to be shot dead in huge numbers anyway, for perverse human enjoyment and greedy profit) are protected by killing our native wildlife. For far too long we have allowed this lunacy to continue unchecked, without criticism or debate. No more.
For any farmer or landowner who says, “There are too many buzzards”: how many is too many? Too many for what, and for whom? Their numbers will be checked naturally by the food available to them. Leave them alone, along with hen harriers and sea eagles and all of the other avian predators ruthlessly persecuted by people who have the psychotic mentality that they can pick and choose to kill whatever wildlife they see fit with complete disregard for native species and Britain’s ecology.
The facts and figures that show we need to save our woods
It seems PCBs can remain in the environment for a long time; these aren’t the only orca populations becoming sick and dying from PCB contamination. It’s a very sad state of affairs for resident orca in the UK, and worldwide.
‘Carnivore cleansing’ is damaging ecosystems, scientists warn
Predator persecution is not acceptable. Without human intervention ecosystems function just fine, with species numbers keeping their own checks and balances. Hunting and farming are having a seriously detrimental effect on ecosystems. This message can’t be said or shared enough times.
Unfortunately, from my experience of discussions on the subject, hunters don’t appear to be the most open-minded groups of people and tend to conveniently believe and regurgitate the myth that hunting equals conservation. This extends, of course, to trophy hunters who like to claim their hunting of Africa’s top predators somehow equates to a great humanitarian effort for the people in the region.
Scientific culling doesn’t help the argument against killing predators as it muddies any message that ecosystems should ideally be left to their own devices and species should not need to be ‘managed’ by humans. Culling is often then used as an excuse to kill any number of species. Ultimately, it’s up to governments to end hunting of all species all together.
I tend to feel any hunting equates to simple blood lust and the perverse enjoyment of killing (which clearly indicates psychotic tendencies), along with a greedy and short-sighted desire to clear more land or manage land upon which we rear non-native, intensively farmed animals (this includes grouse shooting in the UK, as the persecuted hen harrier population demonstrates).
I know that I would far rather see flourishing ecosystems and wholly natural spaces than acre upon acre of barren landscape dotted with cows or sheds full of meat industry slaves.
The facts of life on dairy farms. Male calves shot at birth because they can’t be milked as adults. What a vile industry we’re all funding…