Hedgehogs can have thorns, but thanks to children’s books, they also have a high cuddle factor. The New Zealand authorities are launching a campaign this summer to radically eliminate them from parts of the country, just like the rats.
Hedgehogs were once brought to New Zealand by British settlers. Without natural enemies such as foxes or badgers, they had the empire on their own and they wreaked havoc on local lizards, rare locusts and devoured all kinds of bird eggs, such as those of the plover. endangered New Zealanders. An autopsy found 283 rare grasshoppers of a species found only in New Zealand in the stomach of a hedgehog.
Meanwhile, authorities say, the hedgehog’s gluttony is endangering New Zealand’s ecosystem. The authorities therefore now want to return the 2,300 hectares of the Mackensie basin, in the middle of the South Island, “without hedgehog” in one year. Auckland City Council has also said hedgehogs are a pest, as are rats. “They are, in fact, extremely destructive predators that we absolutely must get rid of,” official Tim Lovegrove told local television. At least 20 percent of rare plover eggs would disappear in hedgehog bellies.
No mammals have been found in New Zealand. The special ratite population, like kiwifruit, doesn’t stand a chance against the hedgehogs, cats, and rats that have been introduced by humans. One hundred years ago there were warnings about the consequences and now the measure is complete. From July, the hedgehogs will be “eliminated” by hunting, traps and poison. It will be quite a job for public opinion, predicts biologist Nick Foster. When it comes to exterminating rats, no one has any qualms about it. But the hedgehogs … we know them as sympathetic sliders from the books of Beatrix Potter and other children’s book authors.
No one knows how many hedgehogs have to believe it. According to local media, there are now more hedgehogs in New Zealand than in Britain. There was even a plan to catch all the hedgehogs alive and send them back to Europe, where the species is in trouble. For example, the hedgehog population in the Netherlands is declining. A great plan, but it turned out not to be feasible due to biosecurity, logistics and costs.
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