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Hedgehogs are moving into urban areas

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Hedgehogs now appear to be more common in people’s gardens in towns and cities than in the countryside.

Hedgehogs now appear to be more common in people’s gardens in towns and cities than in the countryside.

Hedgehogs now appear to be more common in people’s gardens in towns and cities than in the countryside.

Members of the public acting as citizen scientists continue to play an important part in scientific research by reporting sightings of animals like the Hedgehog.

Researchers from NUI Galway, working with a team of enthusiastic volunteers, have recorded more than 5,000 hedgehog sightings across the island of Ireland, with the small mammals turning up more often in the town and city surveys.

Launched in 2020, the Irish Hedgehog Survey encourages members of the public to report hedgehog sightings online using a recording scheme with the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Oisín Duffy, Surveys and Records Officer for the National Biodiversity Data Centre, said: “Hedgehog was the most recorded of all plant and animal species in 2021.

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In total, across the 32 counties on the island, 1,977 individual recorders submitted 3043 sightings through the Citizen Science Portal. This is a phenomenal level of recording activity and shows the importance of targeted projects and recording initiatives, like the Irish Hedgehog Survey.”

In 2021, the research team sought volunteers to conduct a more detailed hedgehog survey in their local area using footprint tunnels. Between June and September, 112 local area surveys were carried out by volunteers across the whole country with hedgehogs recorded in 45% of sites.

Elaine O’Riordan, lead researcher on the project with the University’s Mammal Ecology Unit, said: “We were surprised at the difference; just over a third of surveys conducted in rural landscapes found hedgehogs while 70% of urban surveys recorded them.”

To help researchers understand how hedgehogs use gardens in Ireland, more than 500 householders also volunteered to participate in the Garden Hedgehog Survey, reporting findings via an online questionnaire.

Ms O’Riordan said: “We are still in the early days of our research and we are looking to deepen our understanding of hedgehog’s habitats. That’s why we are encouraging citizen scientists to get involved with the survey this summer again.”

The Irish Hedgehog Survey will continue to September of this year. Further information on the survey is on the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com


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