the number of burrows of common hamsters decreased in 2021

The common Alsatian hamster, which is the symbol of the region, is endangered. Efforts are being made to reintroduce this small mammal and keep it present. Holes are counted every year. In 2021, it is lower than in previous years.

Alsatian hamster burrows are counted every spring in the region. The French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) coordinated the count of nearly 2,800 hectares in April and May 2021.

At the end of this census, 488 burrows were counted. This is less than in previous years (up to 745 in 2019). Please note that the 2020 count has been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.

As of 2020, the Great Alsatian Hamster is endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) standard. These counts, which are associated with the prefecture and the European Union, are an indication of the abundance and geographic distribution of the European hamster over the years (see infographic below for details).

Answering a question from France 3 Alsace, Bruno Ulrich wonders about this figure, which has fallen. He is Treasurer of the Alsace Nature Association and has been following the dossier of common hamsters for many years. “The problem is that we are below the viability threshold of the species. Scientists find stochastic effects [aléatoires; ndlr] A: We have no control over them. With such a low population, we may have a decline.”

“This is what happened a few years ago in the Dorlisheim area. There remained a small population, which from year to year completely disappeared. Enough of any phenomenon: diversity the genetics are so weak that the resistance is less… That’s one of the factors that can interfere.” One of the goals of the National Plan of Action (PNA) for the great Alsatian hamster is to reach a population of at least 1,500 individuals to conserve the species.

Please note that rain does not favor the reproduction of this rodent. “He doesn’t really like wet ground.” And there has been no lack of rain since April … This is the period when the animal comes out of hibernation (and when its hole is counted).

Precious view

Bruno Ulrich recalls the reasons for the conservation of this umbrella species: the protection of the common hamster and its environment indirectly means the protection of many other animals. “Where there are no more hamsters, is there still life? It is important to protect biodiversity. We need it to live. I always remember what Hubert Reeves says: he compares biodiversity to a living web around the planet. The kind that disappears is one of his stitches that jumps. The other kind that disappears is the next stitch. We don’t know how long the fabric will hold without tearing…”

“This hamster has lived in Alsace since the Neolithic. He has his place. It was present in a very large number of municipalities, up to 300, but today the hamster is only found in about twenty of these municipalities. disappears due to the expansion of cities. Bruno Ulrich takes Strasbourg’s Poteries as an example: once a vast area of ​​fields, now very urbanized. “It fragments its habitat. So when you see the work currently being done between Ittenheim and Strasbourg, the width of the GCO, I don’t see the hamster crossing it.”

GCO width, I don’t see the hamster crossing it.

Bruno Ulrich, Treasurer of Elsace Nature

And if we are looking for a possible use for the hamster (and therefore the reasons for its preservation), Bruno Ulrich has other arguments. “Scientists were interested in a fairly large supply of cereals in a hamster’s mink. What we have seen is that these cereals keep well even in contact with the ground. … Or maybe his saliva contains an antibiotic when he wears grains in his cheeks, which prevents them from rotting.”

fragile look

“We have been trying different methods for over 20 years” to reinvent this big hamster,” recalls Bruno Ulrich. “We manage to maintain a population of hamsters on a drip. Is this a real wild population? We doubt. The priority sectors are Obernai and Geispolsheim, where there are still two small cores of a truly wild population.”

The results of the count in 2021 confirm that the great Alsatian hamster remains a vulnerable species. True, the number of burrows is not equal to the number of individuals: there may be several of them in one burrow, the burrows may be forgotten… But there is still an indicator. The fall.

The Prefecture recommends continuing and improving the measures taken to protect the species. The participation of the agricultural community is essential for the survival of rodents. Farms don’t clean up some of their grain fields so that the big Alsatian hamster can evolve there.

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