Hedgehogs were once imported to New Zealand by British settlers. With no natural enemies like foxes or badgers, they had an empire on their own and wreaked havoc on local lizards and rare locusts and devoured all kinds of bird eggs, such as the endangered New Zealand plover. An autopsy found 283 rare grasshoppers of a species only found in New Zealand in the stomach of a single hedgehog.
Meanwhile, according to authorities, a hedgehog’s voracity is threatening New Zealand’s ecosystem. So, authorities now want to make 2,300 hectares of the McKinsey Basin, in the center of the South Island, “hedgehog-free” within a year. Oakland City Council has declared hedgehogs a pest, as are mice. “They are actually very destructive predators and we must get rid of them,” Tim Lovegrove said on local television. At least 20 percent of rare plover eggs will disappear in a hedgehog’s stomach.
No mammals have been found in New Zealand. Special inhabitants of Ratate, like the kiwi, have no chance against hedgehogs, cats, and rats introduced by humans. A hundred years ago, there were warnings about the consequences and now the procedure is full. Starting in July, hedgehogs will be “wiped out” by hunting, traps and poisons. Biologist Nick Foster predicts these will be important to public opinion. When it comes to exterminating mice, no one has a problem with it. But hedgehogs … we know them as sympathetic sliders from Beatrix Potter’s books and other children’s book authors.
Nobody knows how many hedgehogs should believe this. According to local media, there are now more hedgehogs in New Zealand than in Great Britain. There has even been a plan to capture all of the hedgehogs alive and return them to Europe, where the species faces problems. Great plan, but turned out to be useless due to biosecurity, logistics and costs.