Wildlife campaign Hedgehog Street is celebrating its third anniversary by reaching a landmark figure of 30,000 volunteers, at a time when hedgehogs need more help than ever.
The initiative, set up by People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), aims to empower whole communities, encouraged by volunteer ‘Hedgehog Champions’, to take small steps to improve their neighbourhood for hedgehogs and create a giant patchwork of hedgehog-friendly areas across the country.
PTES conducts several citizen science surveys each year calling upon volunteers to monitor animal species in their backyard environments.
The recent results of their 2013 Living with Mammals survey revealed hedgehog records continued a downward trend with the figure of reported sightings being the second lowest since the survey started in 2002.
One of the reasons for the decline in UK hedgehog numbers in urban and suburban areas is the move towards tidy, sterile gardens which inhibits feeding, nesting and mating opportunities.
Gardens paved over for parking or with increasing amounts of concrete reduce the availability of food and suitable nesting sites, and enclosed spaces with impenetrable fences and walls make it difficult for hedgehogs to forage and search for mates.
The Hedgehog Street campaign encourages people to create access routes for hedgehogs in their backyards.
Henry Johnson, PTES Hedgehog Officer said: “Hedgehogs typically travel about a mile each night in order to gather food and search for a mate. A simple step that volunteers can take when they become a hedgehog champion is to link gardens in their neighbourhood by making a small hole in shared boundaries.
“A hole that is 13cm2 in size at ground level will be big enough for a hedgehog to pass through and will enable them to search a wider area to find food and mates.”
BHPS and PTES launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 with a mere 16 volunteers working to recruit friends, family and neighbours to undertake simple conservation tasks in the green spaces on their doorsteps to create hedgehog-friendly environments.
Now, over 30,000 ‘Hedgehog Champions’ across the UK have registered to aid the ongoing campaign, but more help is needed to make a difference.
Fay Vass, CEO of BHPS says, “It is fantastic to have hit 30,000 Champions and have so many volunteers who care about hedgehogs. If every one of our champions could recruit a friend or a neighbour who could put a small hedgehog hole in their fence, then hedgehog pathways could start to open up all across the country which will really benefit them.”
To become a Hedgehog Champion and continue the fight to save Britain’s hedgehogs visit www.hedgehogstreet.org