The BBC Gardeners’s World Magazine annual wildlife survey, which has been running since 2008, has shown that as of 2016, there has been a decline in hedgehog sightings.
2,600 respondents took part in the online survey with 51 per cent of respondents stating they didn’t see a hedgehog at all in 2016 (compared to 48 per cent in 2014) and only 12 per cent saw a hedgehog regularly.
60 per cent of respondents have done something to help hedgehogs in 2016, with 36 per cent avoiding the use of slug pellets, 26 per cent checking for hedgehogs before strimming and 21 per cent checking bonfires before lighting them.
“Gardeners are increasingly acting to help wildlife, but the question is can we do it fast enough to half this sharp decline in numbers?” said Lucy Hall, editor of BBC Gardener’s World Magazine.
“Our message to all garden owners is to see your outdoor space as a small-scale nature reserve.”
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) say that one of the major factors in the decline of hedgehogs is the loss and fragmentation of their habitat.
“We were saddened, though not surprised, to hear that fewer gardeners are spotting hedgehogs,” said Fay Vass, BHPS chief executive. “We have long known hedgehog numbers are in decline, with numbers dropping by around a third in urban areas and a half in rural ones since the turn of century.”
Hall is also trying to help wildlife in her own garden – she doesn’t use slug pellets and has a hedge surrounding her garden rather than a fence.
Lucy Hall’s garden in summer © Lucy Hall
“I keep the end as a ‘wilder’ part with fruiting wildlife hedge and various log piles, plus an open compost bin,” she told BBC Wildlife.
“Sadly I have not seen evidence of hedgehogs in my garden for about four years – in the past, they’ve hibernated in leaf litter, and I’ve put out water and dog food in spring.”
SURVEY RESULTS: Which wild animals have you spotted in your garden in the last year?
Birds (all types) – 94% (2016), 95% (2015)
Butterflies (any) – 93% (2016), 94% (2015)
Hedgehog (regularly) – 12% (2016), 11% (2015)
Hedgehog (not at all) – 51% (2016), 48% (2015)
Toad – 18% (2016), 19% (2015)