Robot lawnmowers operating day or night are severely injuring hedgehogs. The head of an animal welfare society in Hamburg, Vanessa Haloui, said that she has taken in 46 injured hedgehogs this year which is twice the number compared to last year.
The rotating blades cause the most severe injuries such as the loss of limbs which precludes them from being returned to the wild. She receives 2 or 3 every week. She has 20 victims currently in her care one of which is a 3-year-old, Joana, who lost her back legs. Fundraising allowed the vets to attach prosthetic legs and wheels. She can walk again.
Trudi lost half her face and surgery has cost 2,700 euros combined with 24/7 care.
Summer is the worst because the babies wonder around the gardens in the daytime even though hedgehogs are a nocturnal animal.
The problem appears to be the lack of sensitivity of the robot’s sensors which should tell the machine to stop when it encounters objects such as a small animal. But they don’t. The machine does not detect hedgehogs. They are pushed along and then run over.
The increase in injuries is put down to the increased popularity of robot lawnmowers.
Comment: This is a case of manufacturers focusing on human convenience at the expense of animal welfare. It happens a lot. The machines are insensitive to small animals. To mirror that, bosses of these manufacturing companies are insensitive to animal welfare. I’d bet that nothing is done about it. It seems that the solution requires more sophisticated technology which is almost certainly available. The barrier to fitting it is probably cost. And that is all about convenience and profits.
Consumers are probably unaware of the problem. If they were, they might boycott these devices which would force the manufacturers to take urgent action.
SOME MORE ON CONSERVATION: