Jul 30, 2020 —
The Red List of species at risk of extinction, run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has always had a mythic status for me. It is on that list that animals like the tiger, elephant and blue whales appeared. It was like a nerdy-nature version of Top Trumps - my favourite animal is more endangered than yours ...
The inclusion, today, of the hedgehog on the list for British mammals is not a surprise. But still, seeing it as an item of news, hearing about it on the radio, sends a tremor of fear down my spine.
I have always tried to be careful about the language I use when talking about hedgehogs. Now we have the evidence that the hedgehog is considered to the Vulnerable to Extinction - accepted at the highest level.
It is not the only mammal to have its status reinforced - it is in the vulnerable category alongside the Hazel Dormouse, Orkney Vole, Serotine and Barbastelle bats. Endangered mammals, a more serious level of concern, include, the Beaver, Red Squirrel, Water Vole and Grey long-eared bat. Critically endangered - the Wildcat and the Greater mouse-eared bat.
We can all do our bit in the patches we have access to - if we have a garden we can make sure that it is 'hedgehog ready' following the ideas from Hedgehog Street. Oh - and given the focus of the petition .... making sure there is a hole in the boundary to let the hedgehogs in!
But there is more - we can begin to communicate with the people who manage the amenity lands and ask them to keep hedgehogs in mind. And we can pay attention to the arrival of developers - the earlier that we can start to talk to the people preparing to alter our neighbourhood - the better the chance we can get them to consider including hedgehog highways.
This listing - as worrying and dramatic as it is - has the potential to really help. From now on it is not just groups like the British Hedgehog Preservation Society saying that we are worried about hedgehogs - it is recognised at the international level - our favourite animal is now officially Vulnerable to Extinction. And this might help us help hedgehogs - not least in our long-running push to get them moved onto Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act ... more on that another time.
Thank you all for all you do - for spreading the word (after the last update just a few days ago we got over 5000 more signatures) - and for supporting me. For a moment, my new hedgehog book was 298th best seller on Amazon (considering how far down that list some of my other books languish was a delight!) - it will be out on 10th September and nearer the time I will let you know about the launch. There will be 300 free tickets to join on a Zoom event!
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