Uist Hedgehogs – lessons learnt in wildlife management

Lecture Theatre B34, Birkbeck, University of London,
Torrington Square,
United Kingdom
Hugh Warwick is an author and ecologist

Speaker: Hugh Warwick, ecologist & author

Friday 22nd February, 18.30

Lecture theatre B34, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London.

Hugh Warwick is an author and ecologist. After an MSc from Reading University in Wildlife Management he focussed his research on hedgehogs. One project was radio-tracking studies on the survival of released individuals for the RSPCA. It became clear he was earning a little bit more writing about other people doing research than doing it himself. And while most of his time is now spent writing (A Prickly Affair (Penguin, 2008) and The Beauty in the Beast (Simon and Schuster, 2012) ) he still dips his toe into the world of hedgehogs. Most recently he got involved, accidentally, with the management of the hedgehogs released onto the Uists.

The Uists received their first hedgehogs in 1974 when someone released a few on the south island. Over the next 20 years they made themselves very much at home. The increase in hedgehog numbers coincided with a decrease in the breeding success of ground-nesting birds. These birds were part of the Machair Special Protection Area and as the population decline of some waders was around 40%, there was a legal obligation to act. But the decision to cull hedgehogs provoked a massive controversy that was to pit experts against each other and cover hundreds of pages of newsprint. What should decision makers do when the experts disagree? And what can we learn from looking back at the story as it unfolded?


Free Lecture Series, Birkbeck, Ecology and Conservation Studies Society and Linnean Society of London

Wildlife is greatly valued by many of us, but some gives rise to conflicts. Do we all want to see raptors increasing? What about field sports? Can we do anything to stem the inexorable spread of Grey Squirrels at the expense of the native Reds? How best can we halt the spread of TB in cattle, knowing that Badgers carry the disease? Will High Speed Rail cause ecological severance? Most of us would like to see rats controlled, but how far should pest control extend, as far as Feral Pigeons?

Image above and on homepage taken by Pat Morris FLS.

Click here for a map to Birkbeck College (marked as '1').