If you are driving in the suburbs of Leeds, Manchester, Stoke on Trent or Birmingham this year, look out for one of Britain’s iconic and most threatened mammals.
In research just published, the Mammal Society details when, where and why hedgehog roadkill is most likely to occur, with the outskirts of cities in central Britain emerging as particular blackspots. The charity intends to use the results of the project as the first step towards determining whether measures such as reducing speed in hotspot areas would help to reduce the number of hedgehog road deaths.
The research, funded by the Mammal Society, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), analysed more than 12,500 hedgehog roadkill records. The data were collected over 18 years by members of the public taking part in a range of citizen science projects, including PTES’ Mammals on Roads survey, Cardiff University’s Project Splatter, Hedgehog Street’s the BIG Hedgehog Map and the Mammal Society’s Mammal Mapper.
Britain’s hedgehog numbers are in severe decline. According to the Mammal Society’s latest population review, estimates have reduced from 1.5 million individuals in 1995 to a mere 500,000 in 2018. The most recent State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report, published by PTES & BHPS in 2018, estimated hedgehogs in rural areas have declined by a half, and in urban areas by a third since 2000. Possible reasons for this include: loss of habitat and food sources; increased predation and competition with other mammals; and deaths caused by road collisions.
The latest study found that around 9% of the 400,000km of road in Britain is particularly perilous for hedgehogs. Grassland areas, and the outskirts of urban areas, have the highest risk, and major roads are particularly hazardous, despite forming a relatively small proportion of the total road network. Many of the high-risk locations were in central Britain, southern Wales, the outskirts of London, north-east England, and the Central-Belt of Scotland.
Are hedgehogs at risk in your area?
Zoom in on the Society's hedgehog roadkill map, here, to find out if there are any high risk roads near you. You can then tick the Hedgehog Roadkill Probability box, in the top right corner of the map, to find out more detail about the likelihood of hedgehog road deaths occurring in your area.
How you can help:
All three charities are calling on the general public for help to pinpoint casualties in future. The Mammal Mapper, Project Splatter and Mammals on Roads free apps enable people to record sightings on the go and Hedgehog Street’s BIG Hedgehog Map and PTES’ Mammals on Roads websites collect records online. For more information visit www.bighedgehogmap.org and www.ptes.org/mor.
You can find out if your area is a hedgehog roadkill hotspot by visiting the map on the Mammal Society website at www.mammal.org.uk/science-research/hedgehog-hotspots/. If you would like to help fund work to reduce hedgehog road deaths you can donate to the Mammal Society’s #HogsOnRoads appeal at www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/hogsonroads2020.
To view a copy of Predicting hedgehog mortality risks on British roads using habitat suitability modelling Patrick G R Wright, Frazer G Coomber, Chloe C Bellamy , Sarah E Perkins, Fiona Mathews here (pdf).
Posted On: 23/01/2020