PARISHES in the UK are being asked to join a survey designed to
find out more about hedgehogs' patterns of behaviour, which will be
used to provide practical conservation action.
Hedgehog numbers in Britain are declining by three to five per
cent each year, and the largest loss is in the south-west,
south-east, and eastern regions of England, a ten-year-trend
analysis suggests. The Anglican Church's 10,000 churchyards could
provide safe havens for them.
The figures were compiled by the People's Trust for Endangered
Species, and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which
launched the survey this month. They are working with the Church's
national environmental campaign, Shrinking the Footprint, to
investigate how church grounds could accommodate hedgehogs, which
will soon be coming out of hibernation.
The Church's national environmental adviser, David Shreeve,
said: "Supporting this survey underlines the Church's commitment to
caring for creation, as spelled out in the Fifth Mark of Mission.
Our 10,000 churchyards boast a wealth of wildlife, and are
hopefully home to a good number of hedgehogs."
One diocese has already noticed a decline in numbers. Judith
Evans, who promotes the Living Churchyard scheme for St Albans
diocese, said: "There certainly seem to be far fewer hedgehogs
around than there used to be. Like all animals, hedgehogs need food
and shelter, both of which are likely to be found in the increasing
number of churchyards which are managed in a wildlife-friendly
"The Living Churchyard scheme encourages the creation of compost
heaps and log piles, which, as well as acting as a larder
containing slugs and other invertebrates, provides shelter. It
would be very encouraging to find evidence of hedgehogs in our
churchyards, so I hope churches will take part in this survey."
The People's Trust's priority-targets also include hazel
dormice, beavers, noble chafer, and stag beetles, and traditional
orchards and native woodlands. Its chief executive, Jill Nelson,
said: "Continuous monitoring each year is vital to help us build a
more complete picture of the state of the UK's wild mammal
populations. Churches collecting data from their churchyards . . .
could be very helpful for our research."
For more information visit www.hedgehogstreet.org.