Hedgehogs are already protected by law in the UK, but their nesting sites are still in danger.
Housing estate developments invite fences built with cement bases that restrict hedgehogs from foraging, and preventing them from moving from one garden to the next, the Rural Services Network reports.
Pauline Kidner from Secret World Wildlife Rescue said foraging space and the ability to move about with freedom was “so important” for hedgehogs to be able to survive. Kidner’s organization has petitioned the UK government to improve protections for hedgehog habitat, maintaining that building housing estates threatens hedgehog habitats.
Hedgehog numbers have fallen by up to 50% in rural areas since 2000, according to a report by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and
they are registered as vulnerable to extinction on the UK Red List for Britain’s mammals, the Natural History Museum reports.
According to UK Wildlife, hedgehogs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, preventing them from being killed using prohibited methods such as snares or traps. But the hedgehog is the only animal on the UK Red List not protected in the UK schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Schedule 5 of the the act offers additional protection for the conservation of animal habitats, Acer Ecology reports. Currently, every species classified as “vulnerable to extinction” are extended protections by schedule 5 except hedgehogs.
In January 2021, MP Chris Grayling tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill proposing that hedgehogs be added to schedule 5, a move which has received cross-party backing so far from 15 MPs.
If approved, it would place a legal obligation on developers to search for the animals and take action to reduce the risk to their habitat from building.
“Hedgehogs are one of our most treasured animals and play an important role in the country’s heritage and natural environment, and we are working hard to reverse the decline of our iconic British species,” a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told the BBC.
This article by Matthew Russell was first published by The Animal Rescue Site. Lead Image: PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK / VLADIMIR YA – THE WESTERN EUROPEAN HEDGEHOG IS DWINDLING IN NUMBER.
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