THE British Hedgehog Preservation Society is providing funding for research of the release of 24 hedgehogs, across 4 counties from autumn 2013.
These animals will be post-release monitored using remote tracking technology.
The data from these animals will be collated and used to analyse the survival rate of rehabilitated hedgehogs after release back into the wild.
The data can be collected for the life of the battery. The GPS tag is designed for recapture and changing of battery should further data be required, or removal of the tag.
The aim of the research is to assess the survival rates of the released animals and their distribution after release.
Study variables will also include: optimum release weights, soft release methods versus hard release, releasing animals into new counties versus release back to origin, longevity in captivity pre-release and time of year of release.
The study has been designed for repetition in spring 2014 pending funding of additional GPS tags.
The justification for this programme is the understanding that successful rehabilitation and release can only be considered effective if the animals not only survive back in the wild, but also continue to breed and repopulate areas.
This evidence can only be obtained from post-release monitoring techniques. Various release methods and sites can be compared for best practice for future releases.
Additionally, monitoring the disease burden on wild populations will indicate future complications.
The SWCC Hedgehog Hospital intends for all its activities to be based on a sound scientific footing rather than driven solely by emotive reactions and wishful thinking.
It is essential that regular and critical evaluation of the effectiveness of SWCC’s hospital is undertaken to maintian the highest welfare standards, guide future improvements and ensure the rehabilitation of hedgehogs can genuinely contribute to the conservation of wild hedgehog populations.
The hosptial’s aim is to integrate hedgehog rehabilitation with conservation, and to avoid rehabilitation practices that may conflict with the conservation of free-living hedgehog populations.
SWCC is designing a new GPS tracker to address the specific problems of post-release location tracking.
SWCC has overocme the problem of data retrieval by designing a GPS tracker that is able to transmit GPS information wirelessly to a base station where the data is stored to disk.
In the event of the animal being out of range of the base station the data is stored on the tracker and then transmitted to the base station when the animal moves back in to range.
Multiple base stations and mobile hand held devices can be used to extend the coverage if required. Each base station can log an unlimited number of animals.
For more information on this project please email the Hedgehog Scientific Advisory Board at firstname.lastname@example.org