Thank you to all constituents who have contacted me about legal protections for hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are one of our nation’s most beloved animals and a unique symbol of Britain’s natural heritage. Although I was unable to join this month’s Westminster Hall debate I share concerns about their shocking and rapid decline.
I know that people feel very strongly about this subject and that a parliamentary petition calling for hedgehogs to be added to the list of animals protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 received over 108,000 signatures. As you know, hedgehogs are protected under Schedule 6 of the Act from being killed by crossbows, traps or snares.
Responding to the petition in October 2020, the Government said it has not previously moved to protect hedgehogs under Schedule 5 as it is not clear that such protection would be beneficial to the species. It said this is because there is no evidence that intentionally killing, taking or injuring hedgehogs is a current issue, and it would not address the main threat of habitat loss. It added it has not seen evidence of the collection and selling of hedgehogs but would like to see it if groups have some.
I understand that the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is carrying out a review of Schedules 5 and 8 of the Act. The Government says no recommendations have yet been made, and that any proposals for change to species protection will be formally consulted on later this year prior to Government consideration.
I do not think we should wait for a species to become endangered before extending protections to it. Raising the threshold for species protection is a step in the wrong direction. As part of our commitment to a green and sustainable future it is clear that we need to protect hedgehog habitats and actively intervene to restore habitats and hedgerows and to create nature corridors. We also must continue to make space for hedgehogs by creating tunnels, hedgehog highways and houses.
In my view, ambitious biodiversity targets are an urgent necessity. I commend the work of the British Hedgehog Society as we must work to reverse the decline of hedgehogs and towards a dramatic incline in species abundance.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue. I can assure you I will continue to call for the protection hedgehogs deserve