This week (30th April to 6th May) is Hedgehog Awareness Week, an annual event organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Often called the ‘gardener’s friend’, hedgehogs are lovely, harmless creatures, but sadly since the year 2000, “rural hedgehog populations have declined by at least a half and urban populations by up to a third in the same period” across the UK. #hedgehogweek consequently aims to highlight the problems which are causing this decline and suggest ways in which the public can help.
The declining hedgehog population in both urban and rural habitats where the pressures and changes in the environment are very different is not simple to explain, as there could be many contributing factors. Hedgehog Street, “a campaign aimed at ensuring the hedgehog, the UK’s only spiny mammal, remains a common and familiar part of British life”, is a fantastic website with information, FAQ’s and tips for helping hedgehogs.
Some simple, instant ways that you can help hedgehogs in your garden are:
- Ensuring there is hedgehog access in your garden – a 13cm x 13cm gap in boundary fences and walls.
- Moving piles of rubbish to a new site before burning it.
- Ensuring netting is kept at a safe height.
- Checking compost heaps before digging the fork in.
- Stopping / reducing the amount of pesticides and poisons used.
- Covering drains or deep holes.
- Ensuring there is an easy route out of ponds and pools.
- Piling up some logs in the corner of your garden.
- Putting out a dish of fresh water in hot weather.
- Planting nectar-rich plants to encourage insects for hedgehogs to eat.
You can also spread the word about #hedgehogweek by:
- Holding a fundraising event, such as a cake sale, coffee morning or jumble sale.
- Displaying information in your work place, school, library, local shop, etc.
- Writing blog posts about hedgehogs.
- Following BHPS on Facebook and Twitter and retweeting / liking / sharing information and posts to your page.
- Taking a selfie with the BHPS #hedgehogweek sign and sending it out via social media using the #hedgehogweek hashtag.
Each year, the week focuses on a different campaign, and this year is the ‘Strimmer Campaign’. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has created waterproof stickers to be sent to councils, tool hire companies, grounds maintenance teams etc. to remind them to check areas for hedgehogs before using any machinery. You can help with this particular campaign by contacting your local council or tool hire shop to ask if they are willing to use the free stickers from BHPS on their machines – if they are, they can then contact BHPS directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your plans for Hedgehog Awareness Week?