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Kendal is Cumbria’s hedgehog-friendly town

Friday 25th August 2017

Kendal is Cumbria's hedgehog-friendly town. Photo: Gillian DayKendal is Cumbria's hedgehog-friendly town. Photo: Gillian Day

Kendal residents are leading the way in spotting Cumbrian hedgehogs, according to new research by a student at the University of Cumbria, working in conjunction with Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

Christopher Bourn, who is studying a BSc in Animal Conservation Science, examined the distribution of 620 hedgehog sightings across the county last year, using data supplied by Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s online i-spy-a-Hedgehog campaign. Members of the public were asked to log their sightings of hedgehogs in their gardens or neighbourhoods and the results were recorded using GIS mapping.

Christopher’s analysis of the figures from April to December 2016 showed that the majority of the hedgehogs (220 or 36%) were seen in South Lakeland, nearly half of which were seen in Kendal (105). There were 29 sightings in Ulverston and 22 in Windermere. Elsewhere in the county, 29% of sightings were recorded in Eden and 18% in Allerdale, while 3% were recorded in Barrow-in-Furness. Fewer were recorded east of the M6 though a fairly high number were logged in Sedbergh (18), relative to the size of the town.

David Harpley, Conservation Manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust says: “Christopher’s research shows that Kendal residents are certainly leading the way in monitoring hedgehog numbers and they are doing a brilliant job of wildlife recording. It’s a great example of Citizen Science in action! Our survey also shows that many of those who are recording hedgehogs are also looking after the animals’ welfare, feeding them regularly (they love sunflower hearts!) and creating houses and nests for hibernation. As a result hedgehogs are becoming regular visitors to their gardens and back yards, many raising families of up to 6 or 7 hoglets!”

Sadly these much-loved mammals are in decline nationally. They are under threat from development and habitat loss, caused by the reduction of hedgerows and increase in intensification of our agricultural landscapes. In just the last 10 years, hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30%, and there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK.

David continues: “We don’t know how many hedgehogs have gone from Cumbria but by asking people to complete our online survey we can find out more about where hedgehogs are living, whether numbers are increasing, decreasing or staying the same and how many are dying on our roads. The i-spy-a-Hedgehog survey is proving very popular so we’re continuing it this year, to get an even better picture of the overall health of the hedgehog population in Cumbria. I urge everyone to keep their eyes peeled and let us know what they see.”

Log your hedgehog sightings and follow the conversation on social media using #CumbriaHedgehogs

If you want to make your garden or back yard more hedgehog-friendly, here are a few tips:

  • Create a hedgehog highway – cut a small hole in your fence to enable hedgehogs to roam between neighbouring gardens and yards
  • Avoid using pesticides – hedgehogs are natural pest controllers!
  • Provide nesting sites – logs, piles of leaves and wilderness areas make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate
  • Let your grass grow a little wild – it’s an important home for hedgehog prey
  • Set up a feeding station with hedgehog food or meaty pet food and clean water

More advice about helping hedgehogs