An investigation into the techniques for detecting hedgehogs in a rural landscape
Various techniques and devices have been developed for the purpose of detecting wildlife but many only provide optimum results in particular habitats, for certain species or under ideal weather conditions. It is therefore advantageous to understand the efficiency and suitability of techniques under different scenarios. The effectiveness of methods for detecting rural Irish hedgehogs was investigated as part of a larger study in April 2008. Road kill sightings and questionnaires were employed to locate possible hedgehog sites. Six sites were subsequently selected, and in these areas trapping, spotlighting and foot print tunnels were employed to investigate whether hedgehogs were indeed in the surrounding landscape. Infrared thermal imagery was examined as a detection device. Trapping and infrared imagery failed to detect hedgehogs in areas where they had previously been recorded. Footprint tunnels proved to be unsuccessful in providing absolute proof of hedgehogs in an area. No single method of detection technique could be relied upon to conclude the presence of hedgehogs in an area. A combination of methods is therefore recommended. However, spotlighting was the most effective method, taking a mean of 4 nights to detect a hedgehog, in comparison to 48 nights if footprint tunnels were used as a sole method of detection. This was also suggested by rarefaction curves of these two detection techniques, where over a 48 night period hedgehogs were expected to be recorded 27 times through spotlighting and just 5 times in an equivalent period of footprint tunnel nights.