These months have been jam packed full of night surveys, hedgehog chasing, walking around with a massive (radio tracking) aerial, bramble rummaging, garden visits, meeting lots of pet dogs and cats, setting up cameras, video clip watching, lovely garden owners, lots of walking and many, many hedgehogs.
Firstly, I wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone that has been involved – the 120 garden owners in North West Ipswich and all the volunteers that have helped me with the study along the way. For those of you that haven’t been involved, I thought I would tell you what we’ve been up to here in Ipswich since March.
There are several methods currently used for detecting hedgehog presence, but estimating hedgehog population densities are difficult because current methods have either low detection rates or can’t be used across all habitat types. This study is part of a larger project being conducted across the UK by Nottingham Trent University to try and rectify this issue. Our 1km2 site in Ipswich is just one of many sites that aim to validate a method for estimating hedgehog population density using a Random Encounter Model. The model relies on trail cameras being randomly distributed across a study area, using data on camera detection rates, survey effort, area covered and distances animals have travelled. So to get started, at the beginning of April off we went to our study area to get randomly selected garden owners on board. After lots of door knocking, persuading and garden visits (to check they had suitable hedgehog highways!) we managed to get our 120 gardens lined up and ready for the trail cameras to be installed!