Not only is David Cameron selling the countryside, but nature directives are also under threat, meaning European (including UK) wildlife that is currently protected from development may now be in danger. The European commission is aiming to weaken these laws by cutting environmental regulations.
Now the UK’s hedgehogs are in danger of extinction. Environmentalists say if steps are not taken to protect them, they may disappear from our gardens and countryside in as little as 10 years. Levels dropped from 36 million in the 1950’s to estimates of under a million at present.
Causes include the use of slug pellets and pesticides, loss of habitat (hedgerows, countryside and gardens) death on roads and an inability to roam and forage due to roads, fencing and heightened security etc.
One of the many things we can do to protect Hedgehogs, is ban the use of metaldehyde-containing slug pellets and solutions (metaldehyde is a cyclic tetramer of acetaldehyde). These are used not only in gardens; but on a large scale on crops such as strawberries, broccoli and rapeseed.
Metaldehyde at varying levels is toxic to humans, cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, frogs and hedgehogs. If ingested in sufficient quantities it can cause tremors, drooling, restlessness, seizures and death within hours and long term ingestion may affect fertility. Pellets can be mistaken for sweets by children and animals find them attractive because they taste sweet. Predators of slugs, such as birds and hedgehogs can eat it directly or via consumption of affected slugs and snails. Carers of sick and injured Hedgehogs report that if ingested by hedgehogs, it can be incurable and rapidly fatal.
Metaldehyde has been found in rivers, reservoirs and drinking water in high concentrations (over a hundred times more than EU limits in 2012), but instead of using less toxic agents, the only control measure in the UK has been a stewardship program. This is not good enough. Although current labeling of slug pellets asks that the purchaser use safely and read label, this is inadequate.
Many safe alternatives are available to kill slugs that do not harm the environment; including nematodes, organic slug granules, beer traps. Alternatives that are less toxic to the environment exist for farmers to use, but are not currently employed because they are more expensive.
The continued excuse is that not enough is known about the toxic effects of metaldehyde, but vets and even doctors have witnessed the effects of toxicity.
The irony is that people put slug pellets down to kill slugs, whilst hedgehogs are their natural predators. By encouraging hedgehogs into gardens by ensuring access via a small hole, a bowl of fresh water, wet or dry food and a place for them to breed and hibernate in, there is a living solution to slugs.
Please sign the petition and urge the government to ban the use of toxic chemicals like metaldehyde and find safer and non-chemical solutions to these problems.