Donegal volunteers are being sought to help track the movements and habits of one of the country’s cutest, but least-understood, wild animals.
Researchers from NUI Galway and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are calling on citizen scientists to help to record data on the humble hedgehog.
This year, the researchers have planned a more involved survey, with volunteers invited to conduct assessments in their local area between May and September.
The methodology follows that developed by the Mammal Society of the UK, which uses footprint tunnels to determine if hedgehogs are present in various habitats.
The tunnels are made from corrugated plastic containing two sheets of paper and ink in the centre to capture the footprints of the hedgehogs.
Researchers are asking volunteers to place ten footprint tunnels within a 1 kilometre square area for five nights and check them each morning for signs of hedgehogs.
The Irish Hedgehog Survey forms part of the research of PhD candidate Elaine O’Riordan from Zoology, School of Natural Science, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway.
“The aim of the survey is to provide information on the types of habitats where hedgehogs occur, and where they don’t,” Ms O’Riordan said.
“We are hopeful that a lot of volunteers will get involved and survey different types of habitats in urban and rural areas. We are delighted with the response to the Hedgehog Survey so far. People seem very interested in hedgehogs and care about them very much.”
The researchers have also teamed up with project partners from a number of county councils as well as the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Ulster Wildlife Trust and Cork Nature Network.
This survey would be suitable for interested individuals, local wildlife or conservation groups and community and youth groups. There will also be live training events facilitated with the Hedgehog Survey project partners.
Full details of dates and locations of the volunteer workshops will be available on the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com/
For further information on the project, training, or survey news, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on how to attract hedgehogs into the garden or help a sick or injured animal, download the ‘Helping Hedgehogs’ leaflet here.