An investigation into the occurrence of hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) on Irish roads

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Haigh, Amy
O'Riordan, Ruth M.
Butler, Fidelma
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Hedgehogs are one of the most common mammalian road fatalities in Europe. Between April 2008 and November 2010, two stretches of road measuring 227 km (Cork City to Caherlistrane, Co. Galway) and 32.5 km (Cork City to Bandon, Co. Cork) respectively were surveyed for hedgehog road kill. In addition to the sightings of road kill on the two stretches of road, a further 135 carcasses were collected over the study period from throughout Ireland and the sex and age group were recorded. Over the three years, a total of 50 430 km were surveyed and 133 hedgehog fatalities were observed between the two surveyed roads. The number of hedgehog road kill per km in the current study was low when compared to countries such as Belgium, Poland and New Zealand. It is suggested that this may be a consequence of hedgehogs having a greater opportunity to encounter larger busier roads in other countries. Over the three years, the majority of the 133 carcasses sighted were located beside pasture, which was the most prominent habitat along both routes. Arable land was the only habitat used in a greater proportion than what was available. K-function analysis detected clustering along the surveyed roads, with fatalities clustering annually at several locations. This would suggest that hedgehogs may use specific crossing points which would be important for the implementation of management strategies and underpass construction. Of the 135 hedgehog carcasses collected from throughout Ireland there was significantly more males than females collected, with peaks in male deaths occurring in May and June. Female deaths only outnumbered males in August, with further peaks in female deaths observed in June and July. It is suggested that these peaks are related to the breeding season (adults) and dispersal/ exploration following independence (juveniles).
Habitat , Road kill , Density , Arable
Haigh, A., O'Riordan, R. M. and Butler, F. (2014) 'An investigation into the occurrence of hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) on Irish roads', Wildlife Biology, 20 (3), pp. 155-160. doi: 10.2981/wlb.12126