MP Oliver Colvile announced a petition backed by Britain’s hedgehog charities to raise the level of legal protection and save an animal whose population is “in free fall”. The number of hedgehogs in Britain is estimated by conservationists to have dropped below a million, compared with nearly 30 million in 1950. Hedgehogs were a common sight in gardens and hedgerows but are now glimpsed rarely and even then often as roadkill. During Leader of the House Questions, Mr Colville launched the petition and called on MPs to back it and build a cross-party consensus.
“Contact your local MP and urge them to sign this petition so that we can ensure that the hedgehog is around in Britain for generations to come.”
If he can achieve 100,000 signatures, he wants to force a debate in parliament and push through safeguards for a native mammal whose plight has been fully appreciated only recently.
The petition calls for the creature to be added to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, making it illegal to kill or injure a hedgehog or to interfere knowingly with places it uses to shelter. Developers may also have to consider the impact of their plans on hedgehog populations. Hedgehog numbers have declined by between 30 and 50 per cent in some areas over the last 15 years.
Mr Colville said. “I want to reverse that trend. I’d urge all fans of the humble hedgehog to sign the petition online by going to the parliamentary petition’s website. Henry Johnson, hedgehog officer at the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said: “The facts are as stark as the animal is cute: our best hedgehog population indices are in free fall.”
More action is needed to improve habitats. Adding hedgehogs to Schedule 5 will mean that developers will have to consider hedgehogs when they build, and these changes will benefit other declining species too.
We should consider the hedgehog an indicator of wider declines in our wildlife and make the changes necessary to turn the tide of decline.
The petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/121264