Spiny creature, but above all cute. This is how we think – in part thanks to the many children’s books and videos online – about hedgehogs. But in New Zealand they see the “hedgehog” as a brutal killing machine. It is for this reason that they now want to eliminate the animal completely.
Hedgehog was brought to New Zealand by British settlers many centuries ago. In contrast to what happens in Europe – martins, foxes, badgers … And cars New Zealand hedgehog has few or no natural enemies. The result: they can breed without disturbance and move in large numbers through forests and gardens. Meanwhile, they devour local creatures as if they were lovers.
With the exception of a few species of bats, New Zealand has no native land mammals. Groups of birds have adapted to this – like the kiwi – to settle on the ground and stop flying. When animal mice, cats, bags and rats were introduced to New Zealand, they immediately caused massive damage. Rare insects were crushed, newly hatched chicks were killed, and bird eggs were swallowed.
And also the hedgehog is now doing more than its greedy work. “It’s becoming increasingly clear the extent of the damage it causes,” said researcher Nick Foster of the University of Otago. A single hedgehog can be myriad of lizards, bird eggs, and platters (Large cockroaches, editor) devour. One study found at least 283 weta legs in one hedgehog’s stomach. This means that the animal has barely eaten 60 of these cockroaches in 24 hours. “
To limit more damage to the native species, New Zealand has now put in place a plan to eliminate all hedgehogs by 2050. The plan will go into effect in July, using a combination of trapping, hunting and poisons.
The only problem: Nobody knows exactly how many hedgehogs there are in the country. Local media say that “there are more hedgehogs in New Zealand than in Britain” and estimates indicate that there are between two and four urchins per hectare. “There was once a plan to capture all the hedgehogs alive and bring them back to Europe,” Foster said, “but that proved ineffective due to biosecurity, logistics and costs.”