DescriptionThe rehabilitation of sick or injured wildlife and their return to the wild is identified as important for the welfare of the animals although is considered to have limited conservation impact. The West-European hedgehog the most commonly admitted mammal to UK wildlife hospitals and has declined by over 25% in Britain during the last decade. This study aims to establish a detailed understanding of the degree to which hedgehogs are admitted into care in the UK to determine the scale of care. A systematic search for hedgehog carers, wildlife hospitals and wildlife rescue centres was undertaken to guide a self-administered questionnaire requesting the total number of hedgehog admissions from 2012 to 2016, alongside the cause of admission and outcome of admissions during 2016. Data were gathered from 213 questionnaire respondents, providing information on 32,236 hedgehogs over the five-year period. The number of admissions significantly increased from 2014 to 2016, with no difference seen by sex. Records of 13,724 hedgehog admissions during 2016 were found via an online search, which when added to 12,000 records from the questionnaire for 2016 indicate that in excess of 61,400 hedgehogs per annum (6% of the national population) experiences rehabilitation each year. Responses regarding facilities available indicate that rehabilitation is untaken predominantly within residential accommodation, with a heavy reliance onvolunteers. Record keeping was identified as a particular challenge, as 10.3% of respondents kept no records, and 59.8% kept only paper records, limiting opportunities for sharing information. Admission was found to be predominantly as a result of diurnal activity and as autumn juveniles. 59.7% of hedgehogs were returned to the wild, which is above rates reported in prior research, suggesting an estimated 36,000 animals return to the wild each year – a scale at which this practice may have an important role in conservation in addition to an important role for animal welfare.
|Period||19 Apr 2020|
|Event title||International Scientific Conference for Rehabilitators of the European Hedgehog|
|Degree of Recognition||International|