A squashed hedgehog on the side of the road used to be such a common sight that a road safety campaign was launched on the back of it. Who over the age of about thirty doesn’t remember 1997’s King of the Road hedgehogs? Twenty years later it is rare to see a dead hedgehog, let alone a live one.
Photo by Alick Simmons
The Mammal Society estimated last year that Britain’s hedgehog population may have decreased by as much as 73% in the last twenty years. This means that any hedgehog sighting, whether the mammal is alive or dead, takes on a sobering significance.
Together with People’s Trust for Endangered Species and British Hedgehog Preservation Society the Mammal Society is looking at how we might reduce the number of deaths on roads for this already very vulnerable species.
Professor Fiona Mathews, the Mammal Society Chair, explains “We know that vehicles are still one of the main threats to hedgehog conservation. The most recent estimate of hedgehog road casualties, published in our journal Mammal Communications, is that between 167,000 and 335,000 hedgehogs are killed annually. So, we are trying to work out where and when casualties occur, in order that we can then take steps to prevent them. For example, we want to assess whether casualties are more common at the edges of towns and cities, or where there are features like walls or hedgerows leading up to roads that might encourage animals to try to cross.”
The team aim to complete the research this summer and will then use the information to make recommendations on preventing hedgehog road deaths.
The Mammal Society need help to raise £1,500 (their share of the funding for the #HogsOnRoads project). To make a donation, however small, please click here or visit the Ways to Support Us page on the Mammal Society website