Call to protect garden wildlife as hedgehog sightings fall

The number of hedgehogs spotted in gardens across the UK continues to fall as more than half of people did not see a single one last year.

A survey for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine found that 51 per cent of people said they had not seen a single hedgehog – more than the 48 per cent in last year’s poll.

Just 12 per cent said they had seen one regularly, while 37 per cent said they had seen one but not for a long time.

However, gardeners are doing what they can to save the species, which feed other garden creatures such as caterpillars and slugs. Some 36 per cent said they avoided using slug pellets and 34 per cent said they leave leaves and twigs for hedgehogs to use for shelter.

Around a quarter (26 per cent) said they checked for the mammals before strimming and 21 per cent checked bonfires before lighting them.

Hedgehog numbers are thought to have dropped by as much as 30 per cent since 2003 to less than one million left in the UK, down from an estimated 36 million in the 1950s.

Lucy Hall, BBC Gardeners’ World editor, said: “Gardeners are increasingly acting to help wildlife, but the question is can we do it fast enough to halt this sharp decline in numbers?

“Our message to all garden owners is to see your outdoor space as a small-scale nature reserve – part of a network of gardens that link to make a great big, valuable habitat.

“Seen like this, every small step you can make to help wildlife really does make a big difference when we all act together.”