Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Sunday, 2 November 2008

Scientists try to track hedgehogs

Hedgehog
Scientists have fitted hedgehogs with small radio trackers

Scientists from a Nottinghamshire university are tracking hedgehogs in a bid to understand the reasons behind the animals' recent decline.

Over the summer, a team from Nottingham Trent University tagged a number of hedgehogs with small radio devices and marked spines with reflective tubing.

The tubing should make it easier for the scientists to spot the hedgehogs moving at night.

The team also asked people to check bonfires for nesting hedgehogs.

Hedgehog numbers are highest in the east of England but the area also has the greatest reported levels of decline.

'Valuable insight'

Senior lecturer Dr Richard Yarnell said there were a number of theories behind declining numbers such as increased road traffic casualties and agricultural intensification.

"Our work... will hopefully provide valuable insight into the behaviour and activities of rural hedgehog populations," said Dr Yarnell.

"The study will most likely reveal which habitats they prefer, such as arable or pasture fields, and assess the potential impact that road casualties have on hedgehog populations.

"With that sort of information, we'll be better equipped to propose strategies with which to halt their decline."

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