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Rural hedgehogs in sharp decline, survey shows
Pesticides, increased field sizes and intensive farming are all associated with the fall in rural hedgehog numbers.

Conservationists to work more widely with farmers 

At least half of all native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside in the last 20 years, according to new figures.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs Report 2018 is published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).

It found that hedgehogs in rural areas are in sharp decline, with their numbers decreasing by around 50 per cent since the year 2000.

It is thought that pesticides, increased field sizes and intensive farming are all associated with the fall in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas. The BHPS and the PTES are now planning to engage with the farming community to help conserve this iconic creature.

“Farmers play a vital role in producing food, but they’re also well placed to help protect, maintain and enhance our countryside,” explains Emily Wilson, hedgehog officer for Hedgehog Street, a public action campaign run by BHPS and PTES.

“The Government recently reiterated plans to reform the EU Common Agricultural Policy to reward landowners for delivering environmental benefits. Many farmers already have a sustainable approach to agriculture, and we think there’s a great opportunity to work more widely with them to stem the alarming decline of our country hedgehogs.”

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs Report also highlights a more positive outlook for hedgehogs in urban areas. Whilst the species has fallen by a third in towns and cities since 2000, the rate of decline is slowing.

The survey also found that hedgehogs are not disappearing from urban green areas are fast as they were 15 years ago, and could even be returning. Interestingly, in some areas where hedgehogs are found, the numbers appear to be growing.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”