From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Mon Jul 09 2007

The Clare Heritage Office in association with the Clare Biodiversity Group is hoping that the significant number of hedgehogs killed on Irish roads each year will help them produce the country's first every audit of the tiny mammal. The aim of the survey, which is co-funded by Clare County Council and The Heritage Council, is to assess population numbers, as well as to identify the threat posed to the species by the widespread use of pesticides.

John Murphy, Biodiversity Officer, Clare County Council explained, "Members of the public will play a major role in determining the overall success of this survey. We are asking the public to record any sightings of hedgehogs on a reference map that has been established on the Clare Biodiversity Group website www.clarebiodiversity.ie. These records will help us build a comprehensive map of where populations of the mammal are concentrated."

Mr. Murphy said that the Clare Biodiversity office would use the survey as an opportunity to raise awareness about the hedgehog and the many misconceptions that exist about the mammal.

He said, "In areas where hedgehogs have been introduced, such as New Zealand and some of the Scottish islands, the hedgehog itself has become a pest. In New Zealand it causes immense damage to native species including insects, snails and ground nesting birds, particularly shore birds, as with many introduced animals, it lacks natural predators. Attempts to eliminate hedgehogs from bird colonies on the Scottish islands of North Uist and Berbecula in the Outer Hebrides have met with considerable opposition. Thankfully, we have no such problems with hedgehogs in Ireland."

Mr. Murphy warned, however, that the increased use of pesticides was a having a detrimental effect on native hedgehog population numbers.

"It is ironic that hedgehogs are being killed by pesticides when in fact they are the best pest control we have got", indicated Mr. Murphy.

He continued, "Pesticides such as slug pellets are known to kill hedgehogs, along with other species such as thrushes and frogs. Hopefully this survey can raise sufficient public awareness to instigate a shift in opinion and a reduction in the use of pesticides."

Produced by the Clare Heritage Office, the Clare Hedgehog Survey follows less than six months after another inaugural survey was completed in Clare. The Clare Cuckoo Survey, which was undertaken by Clare Biodiversity Group and Clare County Council, found that the bird has made a resurgent comeback in the west of the country.

According to Mr. John Murphy, "We would appeal to the people of Clare and anyone who visits the county to take part in the hedgehog survey. The hedgehog records will add to the significant amount of records accumulated over the last number of years for many other species, all of which are available to view on interactive distribution maps on our website www.clarebiodiversity.ie."

Clare is the first county in Ireland to have a web-based Biological Records Centre, which along with the Clare Hedgehog Survey forms part of the Clare Local Biodiversity Action Plan – the first of its kind in the country.

For further information on the Clare Hedgehog Survey please contact John Murphy (Biodiversity Officer, Clare County Council) at 086-3208965/jmurphy@clarecoco.ie. Further details are available from www.clarebiodiversity.ie.


Notes to Editor:
· To arrange an interview please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900/media@dunphypr.com.
· High-resolution images are available on request.
· Interesting facts about the hedgehog: Hedgehogs appeared on Earth 50 millions years ago and have not changed too much since that time; Hedgehogs can cope with a lot of poisons. One gram of poison, which would kill 300 people, kills only 8 hedgehogs; and in ancient Rome hedgehogs were used as sweeping brushes!

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
County Clare
00353-868534900 (Mobile)
00353-656839692 (Fax)
Company: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Name: Mark Dunphy
Contact Email: media@dunphypr.com
Contact Phone: 00353-868534900

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