Top five tips to protect hedgehogs this bonfire night
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The developers, in collaboration with nationwide campaign Hedgehog Street (run by wildlife charities The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species), are encouraging households to watch out for hedgehogs and other small animals that may take refuge in unlit bonfires, and to take steps to ensure their safety before any bonfires are lit.
According to the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022 report, rural hedgehog populations have dropped by up to 75% in some parts of the country since 2000, and although urban hedgehogs appear to be faring slightly better, they also still need our help.
As well as this, hedgehogs are now classified as vulnerable to extinction on the Red List for Britain’s Mammals (2020), and the reasons behind their decline include habitat loss, fragmentation and agricultural intensification.
As part of this pledge, the developers are creating wildlife friendly gardens at their developments, and include hedgehog homes and hedgehog highways, as well as a range of other eco-friendly features for other native wildlife.
Hedgehog experts from Hedgehog Street offer various top tips for helping hedgehogs in any garden, whether this be making a hedgehog highway (a 13cm square gap in or under a fence or wall) to allow hedgehogs access between different gardens when searching for food, shelter and mates, creating leaf piles and compost heaps which could make the perfect nest, encouraging natural insect food with log piles, or offering water.
Hedgehog Street is also encouraging people to log hedgehog sightings on its interactive BIG Hedgehog Map which helps researchers and conservationists to understand where hedgehogs have been spotted across the country, and how many hedgehog highways have been created.
Barratt and David Wilson Homes have issued a five-point plan based on advice from experts at Hedgehog Street to help keep hedgehogs safe this Bonfire Night.
1. Build your bonfire at the last minute to stop any hedgehogs moving in. Building your bonfire on the day of lighting can help reduce the risk to hedgehogs.
2. Move the entire bonfire to clear ground just before lighting, to give our prickly friends a chance to escape.
3. Make a barrier around your bonfire after it is built using old tyres or other objects to deter hedgehogs from entering.
4. Check the bonfire thoroughly just before lighting. Even if you have taken into account the other steps, there is no harm in triple checking! You might even find other animals including amphibians and reptiles using the bonfire for shelter.
5. Light your bonfire from one side, to give any wildlife that might still be inside an escape route out.
Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street, said: “Many people look forward to Bonfire Night, but sadly many don’t realise the danger bonfires pose to hedgehogs and other animals. To a hedgehog unlit bonfires look like the perfect nest, but they don’t realise it will be lit. Therefore taking a few precautionary steps to check for hedgehogs, and other species, before lighting a bonfire will save numerous lives and is something we encourage everyone to do.”
Gary Chambers, Managing Director at Barratt and David Wilson Homes, said: “It’s extremely important to us when building new communities that we’re also creating a space for wildlife to thrive.
“We would like to thank Hedgehog Street for sharing these tips, and we hope they can help to keep local hedgehog populations stable.”
For more ways to help hedgehogs, especially as they prepare for hibernation, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org.