How Is Wildlife Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic? Lockdown Effect on the Road Mortality of Hedgehogs
Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Konstantynów 1J, 20-708 Lublin, Poland
State School of Higher Education in Chełm, Pocztowa 54, 22-100 Chełm, Poland
Department of Animal Genetics and Conservation, Warsaw University of Life Sciences-SGGW, Ciszewskiego 8, 02-786 Warsaw, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Mathew Crowther and Mandy Paterson
Received: 28 January 2021
Revised: 10 March 2021
Accepted: 15 March 2021
Published: 18 March 2021
In 2020, many countries around the world went into lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19, and many people substantially reduced their outdoor activity and began socially distancing to avoid infection. Such rapid and widespread changes in the lives of people all over the world must have an impact on the environment and wildlife. Most of the current pandemic–wildlife papers focus on changes in the movement and behavior of wild animals. These changes, although interesting and worth documenting, may be ephemeral and may not have any significant effect on wildlife in the long run; they may only show how our daily presence may limit the presence and behavior of animals. In this paper, we suggest that scientific interest should be directed toward more permanent changes in the functioning of wildlife. One such topic is the lower road mortality rates of animals during the lockdown. In this study, hedgehog roadkill levels during the lockdown were over 50% lower than in the pre-pandemic years. Reduced road mortality in the case of hedgehogs may mean tens of thousands of survivors nationwide. We hypothesize that this may result in a change in the demographic and genetic characteristics of the population of hedgehogs, and also help to stop the long-term decline in the number of hedgehogs in Europe.