Hedgehog reseachers appeal for survey help

people are being urged to take part in a survey of hedgehogs to see if climate change is having an impact on their hibernation and survival.

Recent research has revealed that the UK’s hedgehog population has decreased by at least a quarter in the past decade, with numbers declining over the long term from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to about 1.5 million in 1995.

Conservationists say the species has been affected by the loss of countryside habitats such as hedgerows and grassland, more intensive agriculture, pesticide use that reduces their food sources and more badgers.

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In urban areas, tidier and more sterile gardens divided by impassible fences and walls also pose problems for the mammals.

However, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society have now appealed for help with a survey to see if climate change is also having an impact.

The charities said research in the 1970s revealed a direct link between hibernation and climate, showing hedgehogs emerged up to three weeks earlier in the south west of England than Scotland, with inactivity relating to coldness and length of winter.

Typically, hedgehogs hibernate between November and the end of March when food is scarce, in order to conserve energy.

Sightings can be recorded online – at www.hogwatch.org.uk.