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Petition Make Hedgehogs a Protected Species

We, the undersigned, call on the government to make hedgehogs an officially protected species and to limit activities which may disturb, degrade or destroy their habitats.

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This petition is put forth on the following grounds:
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∙ Hedgehog numbers have dropped from 30 million in the 1950s to fewer than 1 million today
∙ Populations have fallen by at least 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas since 2000
∙ Trends show an ongoing decline of about 5% per year nationally
∙ Decline is largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation as hedgerow removal and new development projects isolate populations

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 March 2020

There are no plans to give hedgehogs further legal protection as there is little evidence that this is the best approach to benefit the conservation of the species.

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The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out the Government’s ambition for nature recovery, in particular, our threatened and iconic species. Whilst the reasons for the decline in numbers of this native species are complex, we recognise the role that habitat loss plays.

Hedgehogs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed using prohibited methods such as crossbows, traps and snares. However, further protection of hedgehogs will not support the species and may have unintended consequences because:

• we have no evidence that intentionally killing, taking or injuring hedgehogs is currently an issue;

• protecting such a generalist habitat from destruction or disturbance could have the unintended consequence of making it a criminal offence to tend gardens and maintain land for other purposes; and

• it may have the unintended consequence of deterring the maintenance and creation of habitat for hedgehogs if there will be a restriction on land use as a result.

We recognise that habitat loss is one of the main threats to the hedgehog population. Under our 25 Year Environment Plan, we are committed to creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat to provide benefits for species such as the hedgehog. Agri-environment schemes such as Countryside Stewardship provide funding to restore, extend and link important habitats and boost food resources for our native species.

The Department commends the work, including research, by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, such as their Conservation Strategy for Hedgehogs. Additionally, we have published advice on how to help hedgehogs through the creation of hedgehog havens and making gardens as welcoming as possible. This can be accessed at: www.gov.uk/government/news/five-simple-steps-to-transform-gardens-in-to-hedgehog-havens

The revised National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s policy on planning and states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising impacts on, and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks. The accompanying planning practice guidance (www.gov.uk/guidance/natural-environment) provides further advice on how this should be achieved by local planning authorities.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

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