Surrey Wildlife Trust has launch a campaign that aims to save one of the nation’s best-loved wild animals – the hedgehog.
Launching the fight to coincide with National Hedgehog Awareness Week, the wildlife trust are asking Surrey residents to keep an eye out for the prickly animals in their communities.
Once a common sight in British gardens, hedgehog numbers have been declining rapidly since the mid-twentieth century. Estimates say that there has been drop of around 95% since the 1950s.
Hedgehog watch group, Hedgehog Street, say that the gentle mammals now appear to be declining at the same rate as tigers are globally – at around 5% a year.
Reporting a hedgehog sighting
To help gauge of the number of hedgehogs currently living in the region, Surrey Wildlife Trust has set up a webpage that will chart ‘Hedgehog Hotspots’.
Populations declining in both urban and rural habitats, residents are encourage to use the trust’s online form to report any sighting of hedgehogs – alive or dead.
You can find the Hedgehog Hotspot form here.
Two UK-based charities, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) run wider national campaigns that try to understand why hedgehog numbers are falling so rapidly. Their programmes help to educate land manager and developers, teaching them how to build habits and housing that are hedgehog-friendly.
Here’s what you can do at home:
- A wild corner offers shelter, protection and natural food for hedgehogs and other wildlife.
- Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets in your garden. Not only can these harm hedgehogs but also damage their food chain.
- Provide a shallow dish of fresh water and food such as meat based pet food or chopped unsalted peanuts for hedgehogs, especially during long dry spells.
- Make or buy a hedgehog home, it may be used as a hibernation site in winter or as a nesting box for a mother and her hoglets in the warmer months.
- Check thoroughly for hedgehogs before strimming or mowing.
- Keep pea netting 22-30cms (9-12”) off the ground so hedgehogs canpass safely.
- Check bonfires carefully and remove sleeping hedgehogs before lighting.
- Keep pond and pool water levels topped up, provide a gently sloping edge if possible or place half submerged rocks in the water as an escape for hedgehogs.
National Hedgehog Awareness Week 2017 runs from April 30 to May 6 and is backed by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
In 2013, hedgehogs were voted as the UK’s favourite national species. The Royal Mint honoured the world’s most famous hedgehog, Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, by immortalising her on a 50p coin.