April 26, 2006

Search on to find Britain’s disappearing hedgehogs

LONDON (Reuters) - The search is on for Britain's small,
prickly, shy -- and rapidly disappearing -- hedgehogs.

On the eve of Hedgehog Awareness Week, the British Hedgehog
Preservation Society and People's Trust for Endangered Species
are launching HogWatch -- a plea for people to report where and
when they last saw one of the inquisitive but shy animals.

"It is vital to know where hedgehogs are still present and
determine why their numbers appear to be falling," said Paul
Bright, an ecology lecturer at London University.

"Hedgehogs have been around for 20 million years -- we want
to ensure they will be around in the next century."

A recent survey calculated that the number of hedgehogs,
which have adapted as readily to living in urban gardens as in
the countryside, fell by one fifth in Britain between 2001 and

Participants in the Internet survey are asked to go to
www.HogWatch.org.uk and answer three simple questions, with the
accumulated results being reproduced as a hog map of Britain.

"Letting us know if you haven't seen hedgehogs is just as
important as letting us know that you have," Bright said.