The hedgehog was brought to New Zealand by British settlers many centuries ago. Unlike Europe – where martens, foxes, badgers and cars are hunted – New Zealand hedgehogs have natural predators. Effect: They can reproduce unimpeded and move wildly through forests and gardens. Meanwhile, they swallow their own critters like a girlfriend.
With the exception of a few bat species, there are no native land mammals in New Zealand. Kiwi-like – bird people embraced it to settle on the ground and stop flying. When ermines, cats and bags and mice were introduced in New Zealand, they immediately caused great damage. Rare insects were crushed, freshly hatched chicks were killed, and bird eggs fell to the ground.
The hedgehog is now doing more than his greedy thing. “It’s becoming clear how much damage they are doing,” said Nick Foster, a researcher at the University of Otago. “A hedgehog can eat countless lizards, bird eggs and moisture (large crickets, edition).
To reduce further damage to native species, New Zealand now plans to eradicate all hedgehogs by 2050. The scheme will come into effect in July using a combination of trap, hunt and venom.
The only problem is: no one knows exactly how many hedgehogs there are in the country. Local media say “there are more hedgehogs in New Zealand than in the UK” and estimates range from two to four hedgehogs per hectare. “Once there was a plan to catch all the hedgehogs alive and bring them back to Europe, but it proved impossible due to survival, logistics and costs,” Foster said.
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