How to help the hedgehog
PUBLISHED: 11:52 10 September 2015 | UPDATED: 11:53 10 September 2015
As autumn arrives and the smell of wood smoke fills the air, join Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to tackle a prickly subject!
Hedgehogs are disappearing from our gardens and the wider countryside at an alarming rate.
The prickly mammal has suffered a decline in numbers of more than 30% over the past decade and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust wants to do something about it, but it needs your help.
Over the coming months the Trust wants to hear of all hedgehog sightings BUT it’s keen for people who haven’t seen the animal in their gardens or areas to get in touch too – so it can build up a picture of where they are and aren’t found across the county, we even want to hear whether the animals are dead or alive.
This information will enable staff and volunteers to determine what they can do to help the hedgehog and where they should focus their conservation efforts.
“According to a survey by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, there has been a 32% national decline in hedgehog sightings in rural areas from 2001 to 2011 and a 37% decline in urban areas from 2003 to 2012,” says GWT’s chief executive Roger Mortlock.
“Both nationally and within Gloucestershire we know relatively little about the current population status of hedgehogs, and with limited data it is difficult to tell exactly what we can do.
“So the most important thing we can do now is find out more. By gathering this information we can work out where they are and, over several years, determine how healthy the population is and where we need to focus conservation efforts.”
As well as reporting sightings at www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/seenahedgehog, there are simple things we can all do in our gardens to make life easier for Mrs Tiggywinkle and her chums.
At the top of the list is trying not to be too tidy: variety in the shape of lawns, compost heaps, wood piles, vegetable beds and flower borders is key to encouraging hedgehogs and it’s a good idea not to be too quick to tidy away dead plants in autumn as insects overwintering in the stalks provide food in spring.
Avoiding pesticides is another key move for people keen to encourage hedgehogs. These chemicals reduce the number of insects and molluscs that hedgehogs feed on and can directly cause the mammals to be poisoned.
Meanwhile, having a hedgehog-friendly garden is no good if there are no access points to allow the animals in, so be sure to leave a few gaps in the bottom of fences.