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14 February 2018 12:04:07 |Animal Health,News,Renewables and Environment

Conservation bodies have 'heads in sand' over hedgehog decline, union says

The Farmers' Union of Wales has said conservation bodies are not talking about the link between badgers and hedgehog decline

The Farmers' Union of Wales has said conservation bodies are not talking about the link between badgers and hedgehog decline

Conservation bodies have their "heads in the sand" over hedgehog decline due to a reluctance to talk about the link with badgers, according to the Farmers' Union of Wales.
The union has warned that conservation bodies are unaware over the "devastating impact" badgers have had on hedgehog numbers.
It said the conservation organisations are a "great disservice" by scapegoating farmers.
The State of British Hedgehogs 2018 report released this month estimates that hedgehog numbers have halved since the beginning of the century, and places the lion’s share of the blame on intensive farming.
However, world leading hedgehog expert Dr Pat Morris, author of The New Hedgehog Book, wrote in his 2006 book “The implications [of high badger population densities] for hedgehog survival are serious...ignoring the issue or pretending that badgers exist only by harmless drinking of rainwater doesn't help at all."
A survey of badger numbers between November 2011 and March 2013 found that badger numbers in England and Wales have increased by between 70% and 105% in the past 25 years.

'Singled out'
FUW President Glyn Roberts said the issue is "dismissed" and "swept under the carpet".
“Dr Morris is named in the State of British Hedgehogs 2018 report as the instigator of the first survey of hedgehogs based on animals killed on roads, but no mention is made of his concerns regarding high badger numbers having such a devastating impact on hedgehogs,” said Mr Roberts.
“Despite overwhelming scientific evidence of the impact of badger predation, farmers are effectively singled out as being to blame.”
A 2014 peer reviewed study of hedgehog numbers in ten 100km2 areas where badgers were culled in England found that “...counts of hedgehogs more than doubled over a 5-year period from the start of badger culling, whereas hedgehog counts did not change where there was no badger culling.”
Mr Roberts added: “Of course there are areas where intensive farming has had a detrimental impact on hedgehog numbers, but it is simply wrong to paint the whole of the UK as being like that - the fall in hedgehog numbers has in fact coincided with farmers planting more hedges.”
He added that this view was backed up by the RSPB, who said that losses of managed hedges appear to have halted in the mid-1990s, while the net length of hedges in the UK was stable or increasing.


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