Hedgehogs on roads: the problems and solutions - Hedgehog Street (PTES)

A native hedgehog on a road. Credit Calle Eklund
A native hedgehog on a road. Credit Calle Eklund

Why are roads such a problem? While allowing easy movement for people, roads have the opposite effect on wildlife. They create barriers which fragment our natural landscape, preventing animals like hedgehogs from moving around safely.

The most obvious effect of roads is traffic colliding with individual animals. Thousands of hedgehogs are killed on our roads each year, as shown by records logged on our BIG Hedgehog Map and PTES’ Mammals on Roads survey.

The fragmentation of our landscape caused by roads can also lead to isolation of local populations. This in turn leaves them vulnerable to disappearing altogether. Road mortality is sadly often linked to the hedgehog declines of recent years, both in the UK and across mainland Europe.

Here we take a look at the effects of roads on hedgehogs in the UK and Europe, and the potential solutions.

The problem

Recent studies have shown that in Europe, an average of up to four hedgehogs are killed per kilometre of road each year. This equates to a lot of hedgehogs when you think about how many roads we have. In Sweden, it’s estimated to be between 3-22% of local populations, and 24% in Poland.

Adult male hedgehogs are most likely to be victims of roadkill. This is because of their larger home ranges; they need to roam in search of females to mate with. Travelling further means crossing more roads, putting them at higher risk. In the autumn however, females are more in danger. They need to travel further later in the year in search of enough food after spending all their energy rearing their hoglets. At this point they need to fatten up quickly before the hibernation season.

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Posted On: 13/10/2020

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