With the number of hedgehogs diminishing from 35 million in the 1950s to now just one million in the UK, there is every chance that the UK’s favourite mammal could become no more.
However, there is still hope as a petition has been created by Queen guitarist and animal rights activist Dr Brian May to give hedgehogs protected status. By becoming a protected species, this would mean that hedgehogs would, by law, be protected from being harmed.
This comes after the launch of the Amazing Grace Campaign which follows the story of a hedgehog named Grace and her recovery. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Save Me Trust and the Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue all support the petition.
Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust, states how protected status would help the species: “We think they are being killed by people systematically and the area we are changing is not compatible…by 2025 [if helped] they will remain in isolated office and protected status will give them that; if we can get them protected they will be able to survive in large areas.”
Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, explains what it would mean if the hedgehogs received protected status: “Upgrading legal protection would mean adding the hedgehog to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, where it would be listed as a fully protected species alongside the otter, dormouse and red squirrel. This would mean that hedgehogs would need to be protected in regards to any future developments and cannot be killed deliberately.
“However, this would not protect hedgehogs from the other major factors that are responsible for their decline, such as loss of habitat – like hedgerows and green spaces – and road traffic.”
Emma Bristow, an avid hedgehog carer from Hedgehogs North East, explains how we can care for our spiky friends:
“Put out food and water. Never put out milk or bread as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and bread has no nutritional value to hoggies. Use meat-based cat and dog food (not fish-based as hedgehogs are intolerant to fish protein) and dried mealworms which are favourites of hedgehogs.”
If you would like to sign the petition or want to find out more, here are some useful links: