Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has urged the Coalition Government to legislate to protect the future of the hedgehog.
Miss Widdecombe is launching a campaign on behalf of the Wildlife Aid Foundation called ‘Save Harry’, which is aimed at lobbying for a Hedgehog Protection Act to make the wilful killing of the spiny mammals illegal and to prevent its potential extinction.
Numbers of the once common creature were around 36 million back in the 1950s; however, by 1990 that number had dropped by 34 million.
According to the Press Association, Miss Widdecombe said: “Sixty years ago there were about 36 million hedgehogs. Incredibly this number had plummeted to some two million by the 1990s and could now be down to under a million. We need to take action now before extinction becomes a very real prospect.”
At the moment there is no legal protection for the animals, although they are on a priority conservation list.
Simon Cowell (not of X-Factor fame) is the founder and director of Wildlife Aid Foundation.
According to the Press Association, Mr Cowell said: “I was privileged to grow up at a time when hedgehogs were commonplace. Sadly these wonderful little creatures are no longer a common sight in Britain’s countryside. Unless we act now they could soon disappear altogether. I want future generations in Britain to be able to see our native hedgehogs,” said Mr Cowell.
The benefits of a specific hedgehog law would include prioritisation of their conservation by government bodies such as Network Rail and the Highways Agency. The law would also have an effect on trade and consumer bodies, hopefully prompting them to give advice on how to help the hedgehog.
DEFRA say that at present there is no necessity for a law protecting the species, whilst numbers are still comparatively high.
“The number of hedgehogs mean that they are not considered an endangered species, but they are one of our conservation priorities and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act,” said a spokeswoman.
Widdecombe calls for hedgehog law (Google / Press Association)
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