In just over a month a hedgehog elimination program will begin in New Zealand. Imported in the 19th century by British colonists, this invasive species is a problem today. Indeed, hedgehogs are a real threat to other species.
At war with the hedgehogs
Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are declining in parts of the world such as Europe. On the other hand, they tend to multiply greatly in Oceania and more particularly in New Zealand. As the local daily explained Herald Timaru in an article from March 29, 2021, a hedgehog elimination program will begin in July 2021. It will concern 2,300 hectares from the Mackensie District, in the center of the South Island. The competent authorities will place traps, poison and organize beatings.
The organization Te Manahuna Aoraki is behind this initiative. She gives herself an entire year to overcome hedgehogs. It must be said that in the region, this invasive species imported by British colonists in the 19th century has absolutely no predators. They therefore represent a threat to many other species.
Indeed, hedgehogs eat an astronomical quantity of eggs of birds, lizards or endemic locusts. They also deprive kiwis of food, these emblematic birds of New Zealand which nest on the ground because they are incapable of flight. Ultimately, Te Manahuna Aoraki wants to transform no less than 300,000 hectares of this region in zone without hedgehog.
An animal originally very appreciated
On the North Island, the species Erinaceus europaeus has been registered on the list of harmful and destructive animals by Auckland City Council and therefore joined the unwanted rats, possums and other stoats. It is therefore not excluded that in the more or less near future, other programs of elimination of the hedgehog will emerge in various places of the country.
Local researcher Nick Foster is the author of a study on which the program to be implemented in the District of Mackensie is based. This one evoked a certain psychological barrier often present when it comes to eradicating hedgehogs. He explains : “They have long held a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders Pākehā, the ethnic group descended from European immigrants and settlers. They were introduced very deliberately, to remind them of their home gardens.“
Finally, hedgehogs are not the only targets of New Zealanders. Indeed, the country aims to overcome all of its invasive predators by 2050. After the hedgehogs, the next on the list are the wild cats whose tracking is particularly complicated.