The Farmers union of Wales has warned that the over protection of badgers could lead to hedgehogs becoming as rare as red squirrels.
Referring to figures released by the Mammals Trust, which suggest that hedgehog numbers have fallen by more than 20 percent in the last four years, they say that ongoing research funded by Defra, and carried out by Richard Young also points to a massive rise in badger numbers as the source of the problem.
Mr. Young has suggested that high numbers of badgers would have "serious consequences for the persistance of hedgehogs in rural areas of the UK". He continued, "Surveys predict that badgers can achieve sufficiently high densities to exclude hedgehogs from rural habitats altogether".
Previous studies in the early nineties showed that badger predation may be influential in shaping hedghog populations, but the present study aims to investigate the effect of badgers on hedgehog abundance and distribution on a larger scale. Using 5 of the RBCT areas the study will examine in depth, the response to manipulation of the badger population density over a 3 year period.
The abstract can be viewed at :
The Effect of Badgers on Hedgehog Abundance and Distribution. Richard Young.