How does this work then?

Hedgehogs are disappearing form the British countryside because they are being devoured by badgers, a study has found.

Researchers said the mammals, which are increasingly having to move to urban areas, are now present in just a fifth of the countryside.

Regular destruction of habitat with heavy agricultural machinery – as well as the use of pesticides in intensive farming – is also said to be wiping out the worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes it feeds on.

Badgers aren’t exactly new in Britain now, are they? So it’s unlikely they’re the cause of any significant population change…..

25 thoughts on “How does this work then?”

  1. It’s the increase in Badger numbers that is thought to be part of the problem, The badger population in England and Wales is estimated to be 485,000 – an 88% increase since the 1980s, research shows. The report – Abundance of badgers (Meles meles) in England and Wales – was published on Nature.com on Tuesday (21 March).24 Mar 2017

  2. Julia–So long as the badgers natural enemies do not include pikeys and assorted crimo-scum digging them out for the “amusement”.

  3. Last time I saw an urban hedgehog it was in the jaws of an urban fox. A 3d urban hedgehog anyway, plenty of 2d ones by the roadside…

    Are urban fox numbers higher than historically too? Certainly traffic is. So not sure how welcoming the urban environment is for our spiky friends either, though at least gardens seem unlikely to suffer a slug shortage…

  4. In the 1980’s when I was a junior my parents bought be a ZX Spectrum 48k. There was a program with it that showed fox and rabbit populations over time. Bascially two sine waves in opposition to each other. Not the most exciting game, I prefered Horace goes Sking.

    Still it installed in me the knowledge that if one population in a predator prey relationship changes the other will too.

    I guess the people who decided badgers needed special protection didn’t get a Spectrum for Christmas in 1985.

  5. Note also the ritual rant against intensive farming. Intensive farming means more grown in a smaller area, thus leaving more space for wildlife. It’s likely to increase hedgehog numbers.

  6. Ecology. Populations of most things go up and down in cycles, some of them over lifespans comparable to or greater than the human one.

    Even (or, rather, especially) the yokels observe it. “There’s not many of them about now, were thousands back in my day/all these X, never used to see them when I were knee-high to a grasshoper”.

  7. Culling badgers – OK, go ahead, shoot or poison. Culling urban foxes: best done with packs of hounds and people on scooters. Or pogo sticks. Or operating drones.

    Or we could replace greyhound racing with urban fox racing, with the electric bunny replaced by an electric kitten.

  8. Urban hedgehogs are going to have an increasingly hard time finding somewhere to live and roam. A former neighbour of mine had a rambling, jungley garden they really couldn’t keep up which was home to at least one hedgehog. She had the garden landscaped and made largely gravel and decking.
    Despite putting out a hedgehog “home” she never saw another one. Apparently they don’t like gravel and prefer to rummage through undergrowth to open spaces.
    I’d suspect that more people are going the gravel, paved, decking route, especially as most people don’t have the time and/or inclination to keep up a trad garden but still want a garden which is usable and looks reasonably smart.

  9. “I prefered Horace goes Sking.”

    If you were still playing Horace in 1985 something had gone badly wrong – everyone else had moved on to Manic Miner and Jetpac………

  10. There are a lot more badgers around in our neck of the woods (Suffolk). They have definitely become a lot more noticeable as roadkill in the last few years, and we never see hedgehogs in the garden now. Our garden camera catches a badger almost every night trotting across. The same can be said for muntjac deer and foxes – they are now much more numerous here than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

  11. It was common knowledge where I used to live in North Bucks. Have hedgehogs. Badgers move in nearby, don’t have hedgehogs any longer.

    Badger number are up close to 90% on those of the 1980’s with close to 500,000 in the UK.

    Badgers are quite keen on bumble bee nests too, and I’d not be surprised to find they’re a significant factor in the decline of bumbles

  12. @Mr Ecks, actually there was a joke in a TV show where a Brit who studied apex predators goes to study polar bears and when they ask him about his speciality he says badgers

  13. “Regular destruction of habitat with heavy agricultural machinery – as well as the use of pesticides in intensive farming – is also said to be wiping out the worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes it feeds on.”

    Just now?

    There shouldn’t me much *new* destruction. Britain isn’t expanding the amount of land its converting to farming at any more than a neglible rate.

    And we’ve been using roughly the same ‘intensive’ agricultural methods for two generations now.

    So, if the badgers are only moving *now*, and these things have been in existence for 60+ years, they can’t really be the cause of the move.

  14. Anecdata: In 2009 when I moved into my current pad in a small village ( popn 1050 ) there were lots of slugs, so much were they a nuisance I dug those little holes and put glasses of a bad home-brew batch in. For several mornings after they looked like aerial photos of Stalingrad. Snails were a nuisance too for a while.
    Now: no slugs and hardly any snails but more birds. Could be a natural cycle or something has changed.

  15. Jim,

    lol, I think you’re correct and I got the year wrong. I think I was on to Jet Set Willie by ’85.

  16. @Bongo. “Snails were a nuisance too for a while.”

    Reminds me of my youth when I used to breed racing snails.

    There was one I had high hopes for, all the right pedigree to be a flyer but he was slow. I thought his shell might be weighing him down so took it off.

    But it just made him more sluggish.

  17. OT I wonder if there are any bloggers anywhere in the blogosphere who ever take the time to audit their blogroll to see if the links still work and if the latest entry is more recent than five years ago?

  18. The interesting thing about this article was that the climate change dog did not bark in the night.

    Is that fad over? Are the silly lefties and Journ-O-Lists tired of it? I hope so.

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