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Hedgehogs on roads: new review assesses the problems and solutions

A new review outlining the impact of road mortality on native European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus), as well as assessing potential solutions, has been published in the online scientific journal Animals.

Hedgehog on road
A native hedgehog on a road

A new review outlining the impact of road mortality on native European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus), as well as assessing potential solutions, has been published in the online scientific journal Animals.

The paper, titled ‘Impacts and Potential Mitigation of Road Mortality for Hedgehogs in Europe’ consolidates current knowledge about why road networks - and road users - are potentially so detrimental to not just our native hedgehogs, but also the other four hedgehog species found in Europe. The review also identifies gaps in research, such as understanding how different individual hedgehogs perceive, cross and are impacted by road networks.

PhD Student Lauren Moore, from Nottingham Trent University (NTU), led the review which is jointly funded by wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and NTU. The University of Cambridge, the University of Reading and Cardiff University are also partners in this ongoing research into the impact that UK roads and traffic are having on native hedgehogs.

Lauren Moore, PhD Student (NTU’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences), explains: “Roads are a substantial problem; they create barriers which fragment the natural landscape, preventing hedgehogs - and other wildlife - from accessing food, shelter and mates. This can lead to local populations becoming isolated, potentially increasing the risk of local extinction. In addition to this, traffic on roads is also an issue and hedgehog roadkill is sadly a very familiar sight both in the UK and in Europe. It is possible that both are major factors contributing to the ongoing decline of hedgehogs, which need to be further understood so we can find out how to best protect hedgehogs.”

The paper also examines the effectiveness of mitigation measures designed to reduce roadkill numbers and avoid population isolation. These include road crossing structures (tunnels or ‘green bridges’), and improving natural habitats surrounding roads, so that hedgehogs can thrive without needing to cross a road. Traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and warning signs could be effective too, and at a lesser cost. In fact, Hedgehog Street - a national campaign by PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) - is creating guidance for local authorities showing where to place hedgehog road signs, warning road users of their presence.

Lauren adds: “Road casualty estimates may be as high as 335,000 hedgehogs per year in the UK. This is alarming, especially since we don’t have robust population estimates. Although we know some hedgehogs use road crossing structures, we don’t yet know how effective these solutions are at a population level. In order to address these issues, future studies are necessary to monitor mitigation measures over a longer period of time, enabling us to spot changes in populations and confidently link them to the measure(s) in place. We also need hedgehogs (and other wildlife) to be considered during the early stages of planning and road construction.”

Members of the community can help conservationists understand the impact of roads to hedgehogs too, by recording any sightings of hedgehogs – dead or alive - on Hedgehog Street’s BIG Hedgehog Map.

Nida Al-Fulaij, Grants Manager at PTES says: “With thousands of hedgehogs killed on UK roads every year the continuous development of road networks, without any mitigation, puts this already endangered species at even further risk. It’s paramount that Lauren and colleagues find out what mitigation measures could offer the best solution for both hedgehogs and humans. Anyone can help, so if you see a hedgehog on the road – dead or alive – please record it on Hedgehog Street’s BIG Hedgehog Map and/or via PTES’ Mammals on Roads app.”

Hedgehogs, recently listed as Vulnerable to extinction on the Red List for British Mammals, have declined by up to 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas since 2000, according to the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report published by PTES and BHPS. Tidy, fenced in gardens in urban areas and loss of hedgerows and intensification of agriculture in rural areas are some of the other factors contributing to their decline.

Published in August 2020, this paper is part of a special issue focusing on ‘Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research’. This issue contains 11 papers examining various hedgehog research projects across the UK and Europe, including topics such as hibernation, genetics and diet. Much of this work is funded by PTES and BHPS.

To read Lauren’s paper, click here, and to find out more about Lauren’s wider project click here. For more information on how to help hedgehogs, visit

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    Available for interview

    • Lauren Moore, PhD Student, School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University
    • Nida Al-Fulaij, Grants Manager, PTES

    About PTES

    • PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events.
    • PTES’ current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards, native woodlands, wood pasture and parkland and hedgerows.
    • PTES has Species Champions for three of its priority species: for hedgehogs The Rt Hon Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom & Ewell, for water voles The Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central and Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, and for dormice The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
    • Visit and follow PTES on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & LinkedIn.

    About Nottingham Trent University

    • Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.
    • NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.
    • The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.
    • It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.
    • The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.
    • A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2020 National Student Survey, above the sector average of 83%.

    About the University of Reading

    • The University of Reading is a one of the UK’s leading centres for the study of biodiversity and the environment.
    • Visit to find out more.

    About the University of Cambridge

    • The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 109 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize.
    • Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. Cambridge is a global university. Its 19,000 student body includes 3,700 international students from 120 countries. Cambridge researchers collaborate with colleagues worldwide, and the University has established larger-scale partnerships in Asia, Africa and America.
    • The University sits at the heart of the ‘Cambridge cluster’, which employs 60,000 people and has in excess of £12 billion in turnover generated annually by the 4,700 knowledge-intensive firms in and around the city. The city publishes 341 patents per 100,000 residents.

    About Cardiff University

    • Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.
    • Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems.
    • More at
Published on 13 October 2020
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences