Naturalist and host of the BBC’s Springwatch has encouraged UK gardeners to learn to live with slugs if they want to see hedgehogs and song thrushes survive.
Chris Packham has encouraged gardeners to think of themselves as part of the wider ecosystem, urging them to manage molluscs without killing them in order to help save dwindling hedgehog and songbird numbers.
Populations of both have been crashing in recent years, with hedgehogs now seen in a dwindling number of gardens when they were once a common sight. Ditto for the song thrush, whose prevalence has declined by as much as 70%. Slugs are the preferred food source for both, and Packham suggests management that doesn’t wipe out slugs entirely is a good way to encourage them back.
Likening the planting of a row of lettuces to opening up a supermarket for slugs, Packham has suggested thinking like a slug might be the way forward:
If you turned up at Sainsbury’s and they said: ‘Everything today is free’, you’d fill your basket, wouldn’t you? That’s what humans would do. So put yourself in the mind of the slug. You have to find a degree of tolerance, find ways of managing slugs without killing them.
He also suggested gardeners encourage hedgehogs by not clearing woody debris and cutting holes in the bottom of their fences to allow them free access to and from gardens.