Hedgehog Tunnel Survey

Hedgehog © Gillian Day Hedgehog © Gillian Day

The Manx Wildlife Trust is interested in the population numbers of hedgehogs on the Island. The UK has seen a worrying decline in the species and The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Society joined forces and have been monitoring this trend. In their recent ‘State of Britain’s Hedgehogs’ report (2018) they estimate that between 2002 and 2017 rural hedgehog populations have fallen by a third. In the same time period, urban hedgehogs numbers fell initially but there are indications that this maybe levelling out or even rising slightly.

So why did this happen? There are many possible reasons and isolating it to one dominant factor is difficult, but probably it is a combination of intensification of agriculture (Habitat loss and reduction in insect prey), road casualties (Rural lanes are poorly lit) and predation by badgers and foxes. Having neither of these two predators on Island makes the Manx population more interesting to study as we can possibly compare similar UK and Manx sites. Urban hedgehogs are under pressure owing to the trend for gardens to become poorer in wildlife due to decking, paving and less gardens with flowers and vegetables, plus the development of new houses taking away their habitat on the border of towns.

How can you help? Even though the Island is small, Manx Wildlife Trust cannot monitor all the land, plus the fact that hedgehogs are nocturnal doesn’t help. We are asking the public to become involved with monitoring and reporting back to us in a citizen science experiment. By placing a hedgehog tunnel in your garden and monitoring it for footprints we will be able to see if there are hedgehogs present. Even if you don’t record any footprints this still informs us of the population size and trends.

It is any easy project to undertake and just requires setting up the tunnel near a hedge or wall in your garden, and leaving it baited with food to entice the hedgehog in. Any animal visitors will then walk over an ink pad and leave footprints behind. This is a safe and harmless way to detect hedgehogs! It’s a lovely activity to get the whole family involved in and you can lend your tunnel out to other friends and family. All we ask is that you report back on the date, location, if the bait was taken and if you found any footprints of hedgehogs.

We will be holding a workshop at the iMuseum on Saturday 28th April from 1 to 3pm, please book via the museum services at https://manxnationalheritage.im/whats-on/detail/manx-wildlife-week-helping-hedgehogs There will be a limited number of tunnels available for sale so please state if you would like one when booking. At the event we will demonstrate how to set up your tunnel, where is the best site in your garden and how to examine the footprints to find out who has been visiting your tunnel. We will also guide you through how to register your finds with the Trust and also the National Biodiversity Network Atlas IoM (https://isleofman.nbnatlas.org/), which is being launched by Manx National Heritage this week. Vera Barber, the Hedgehog lady of Peel will also be bringing in some of her rescue hogs for you to look at.

We will be extending this project to schools with a loan scheme for the tunnels and sessions to demonstrate how to use them on the school grounds over a week-long period.

You can use the form below to report your finidngs -  use http://gridreferencefinder.com/ to find the grid reference for your location.