An Estimate of the Scale and Composition of the Hedgehog (Erinaceus europeaus) Rehabilitation Community in Britain and the Channel Islands: Animals

Lucy E. Bearman-Brown, Philip J. Baker

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Abstract

The conservation benefits of wildlife rehabilitation are equivocal, but could be substantial for formerly common species that are declining rapidly but are still commonly admitted to wildlife centres. We used a questionnaire survey to estimate the number of practitioners rehabilitating West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Britain and the numbers entering hospitals/centres in one benchmark year (2016); practitioners were identified using an internet search and snowball sampling. Overall, 304 rehabilitators were identified: 148 supplied data on their structure, and 174 outlined the number of hedgehogs admitted in 2016. The former comprised 62.6% small (≤50 hedgehogs admitted year−1), 16.7% medium-sized (51–250 yr−1), and 20.7% large (>250 yr−1) hospitals; however, these accounted for 4.8%, 12.4%, and 82.8% of hedgehog admissions, respectively. Small hospitals were less likely to be registered as a charity, have paid staff, have a social media account, to record admissions electronically, or to conduct post-release monitoring. However, they were more likely to operate from their home address and to have been established for ≤5 years. Extrapolations indicate that this rehabilitation community admitted >40,000 hedgehogs in 2016, of which approximately 50% could have been released. These figures suggest that wildlife rehabilitation has potentially been an important factor in the dynamics of hedgehog populations in Britain in the last two decades.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimals
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • conservation
  • Erinaceus europaeus
  • European hedgehog
  • wildlife hospital
  • wildlife rehabilitation

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