Our spiky friends are dwindling in numbers, and with Guy Fawkes Night looming, the public are urged to take great care to protect them from further decline.
Since 2000 hedgehog numbers have dropped by 50% in rural areas, and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is urging the public to help prevent further loss this autumn.
The charity says Bonfire Night poses the ‘most treacherous’ time for the much-loved species, as hedgehogs crawl into unlit bonfires and perish when they are lit.
There are simple ways you can help protect the spiny mammals, according to the BHPS, including moving materials the day before the bonfire and checking for the animals before lighting.
‘Unfortunately a pile of bonfire material looks like a five-star hotel to a hedgehog, and of course we have other plans and are going to set fire to it,’ said Fay Vass, chief executive of the BHPS. ‘Not everyone is that aware of what they can do to help.’
The BHPS offers the following advice to ensure hedgehogs are safe this Fireworks Night:
- Re-site the bonfire on the day it will be lit
- Use broom handles to lift up the heap and have a good look underneath to check for hedgehogs
- Light the bonfire from one side so any hedgehogs left inside have an escape route
- Look after any hedgehogs that you do find, then once the festivities are over and the fire has totally dampened down, you can release them back in the same area
Ms Vass added that awareness surrounding hedgehogs has grown in recent years. She attributed this to information being shared through social media, and fellow hedgehog lovers spreading the word of how to protect the animals.
‘People tag their local bonfire sites on Facebook and they’re all very keen to promote hedgehogs and how you can help them,’ she said. ‘We’re going to keep pushing our messages through and keep getting people to look out for hedgehogs and hopefully that will affect the numbers and people will start to see them grow again.
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