Mammals on roads survey

July sees the start of a nationwide survey of mammal sightings along single-carriageway roads.

The survey is organised by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

The first survey was in 2001.

The survey takes place during July, August and September.

To date, over half a million kilometres of road have been surveyed, and changes in counts of species such as hedgehogs, foxes and badgers have been tracked over time.

Findings from the survey have already alerted authorities to the possible drastic decline in hedgehogs and were the impetus for HogWatch.

Lower hedgehog numbers

Cars on a fast road

Hedgehog numbers are showing a decline in numbers in some areas of the country

Hedgehogs have been a cause for concern in recent years as there is growing evidence that their numbers are falling.

The picture varies regionally – hedgehogs are more abundant in the north and east of the UK  – but the indication is that across Britain as a whole, the population is declining.

The count in 2009 was 31% lower than that in the first year of the survey.

Some years are better than others, of course, which is why a dataset that extends over many years is so important: over the long-term, underlying trends can be spotted .

In 2007, hedgehogs were designated a priority species as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, as a result of evidence in part from Mammals on Roads.

Efforts are now underway, by PTES, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and others, to ensure a strategy exists for their conservation.

How to take part in the Mammals on roads survey

To get started you can choose from one of these options:

As well as recording sightings, volunteers record information about their route, such as the start and end points, and waypoints along the journey.

This allows the journeys and sightings to be mapped, and counts of each species to be expressed as the number of sightings per distance travelled, so that the results can be compared between years and a long-term picture built up.

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