BBC Reports Hedgehog Study Requests The Help Of The Public

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BBC Report on public request by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Rising temperatures threaten hedgehog population.

Photograph by Dave Bevan

Hedgehogs in urban areas can be helped by the provision of "hedgehog houses"

"And what we found was that the hedgehogs were being observed about three weeks later in Scotland than they were in the south - or another way of putting it is that they were emerging from hibernation three weeks earlier in the south."

Richard Black, BBC Environment correspondent this week a public request was announced by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society for the public to help with a study on how climate change is affecting the British Hedgehog, an endangered species. It is widely believed among experts that warmer temperatures mean that the animals emerge from hibernation earlier in the year. By doing this they may be emerging when there is no food available and so could starve.

Rising temperatures also affect the creatures whilst they are hibernating, causing increased metabolism during the hibernation period. This results in the hedgehog’s fat reserves being used up too rapidly, and needing to hunt earlier in the year when it may be too cold for them to do so, especially if the food is still scarce at that time of year. By having the public help with the study it is hoped that the experts will be able to see how the warmer climate has affected the number of Hedgehogs in the country.

This study has been announced at just the right time for people to get out in the garden and start enjoying the warmer temperatures themselves. This is an activity that can involve the whole family and bring them closer together. The findings that each person collects from their individual Hedgehog study need to be uploaded to the societies’ website every three weeks or so. For parents this is an opportunity to teach their children how to use computers, and vice versa if the knowledge is with the children.

The study is sure to generate a lot of revenue for gardening shops as families head out to buy the relevant tools they need in order to dig hedgehog homes. Well-known Brands like Kingfisher Bonnington Plastics will experience a boom in sales as retailers stock up after this sudden rise in demand to be ready for the spring shoppers.

With the whole country helping the society with this study it should soon become evident if there are any changes to the habits of Hedgehogs. Certain species of Birds, Insects and Plants have been affected by the warmer climate and are also emerging earlier after winter than previously recorded. If the Hedgehog is following the same pattern then this could reveal a trend that more species may begin to follow.

Between 1950 and 1955 Hedgehog numbers dropped from 50 million to 1.5 million suspected due to climate change. Environmentalists are hoping that the results of this study don’t reveal a drastic drop in their numbers, if this trend continues we may face the extinction of the British hedgehog.

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Clare Brace
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