Bid to assess health of UK wildlife launched

The Northern Echo: A hedgehog A hedgehog

MEMBERS of the public are being asked to report signs of disease in garden species such as birds and frogs as part of a project to assess the health of UK wildlife.

The national Garden Wildlife Health project will use the information to analyse where and when wildlife diseases are occurring and whether they are hitting animal populations, to help protect species against future declines in numbers.

Nature lovers are being used to report any signs of disease they spot in common species including amphibians, reptiles, garden birds and hedgehogs online at gardenwildlifehealth.org.

The citizen science scheme is a collaboration between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and amphibian conservation charity Froglife.

Tim Hopkins, Garden Wildlife Health project co-ordinator at ZSL, said: "We all share our gardens with wildlife but often fail to notice how these animals are faring.

"We're already seeing a steep decline in a number of iconic British animals, including the hedgehog, and we need to know whether disease is playing a role.

"We know that common frog and greenfinch populations have declined as a result of disease and keeping an eye on our British garden species is crucial if we are to understand the threats to their health, which not only affects individual animals, but can impact entire populations.

"This new national project relies on the help and support from the British public, and we urge people to get in contact with us at gardenwildlifehealth.org to tell us what they're seeing in their garden; it will really make a difference."

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