Dark Skies Cumbria

Saving Our Night Skies

Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health wildlife and our own natural well-being. Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate. We need urgent action now to stop light pollution. Stargazers, photographers, wildlife lovers and local communities… please help.


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The Lake District and Cumbria offers some of the most spectacular and precious skyscapes in England and we want you to join us on an interstellar adventure. Download our Dark Sky Discovery Pack and get started today!

The European Hedgehog is a popular, iconic creature who’s numbers have declined significantly in Great Britain from 1.5 million in 1995 to 522,000 by 2016, due to habitat loss, intensive land management practices and predation. As a consequence, ironically, their densities are now higher in our towns and cities than in the general countryside.

Research into the effects of artificial lighting on mammals has mainly focused on Bat species. However, researchers in Germany studied the effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) on the movement behaviour of wild hedgehogs inhabiting urban spaces.(1). GPS tracking devices were fitted to both male and females in three different locations across Berlin. The majority of hedgehogs in this 4 year study consistently showed they preferred to move in less illuminated rather than in strongly illuminated areas. Although the study didn’t isolate other potential influencing factors, like food abundance, it suggested that Hedgehogs might be avoiding artificially lit areas to reduce the risk of encountering human activities or common urban predators, such as Foxes.

This is the first field study to provide evidence that the movement of hedgehogs is related to ALAN intensity. With these results representing natural movement behaviour, the findings can be used to support conservation measures to help reverse population declines. Hedgehogs could, for example, be led around dangerous areas, such as roads or sports pitches, by building dark corridors using vegetation and reduced illumination through sensitive dark sky/wildlife friendly road/footway and other lights.

Apart from the threat of being killed in traffic, hedgehog populations in urban areas might face genetic isolation. Bridging parks with dark corridors could help to safely connect isolated populations from different parks/gardens and thus increase genetic diversity.

The Researcher’s recommended, some studies examining the sensory capabilities of hedgehogs using street, footway and other lights of different wavelengths and intensities would be helpful. Additionally, the influence of other environmental factors on the movement behaviour needs to be measured alongside the effect of ALAN.

Greater understanding of the needs of the European Hedgehog, an urban adaptor species in serious decline, will help to inform and establish effective conservation measures for the protection of this nocturnal insectivore.(2)


(1). https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/10/8/1306

(2). See guidance on how to help Hedgehogs via Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s website: Help a hedgehog | Cumbria Wildlife Trust