Plea to residents to build 'hedgehog highways' after dramatic fall in numbers
- Number of hedgehogs in Britain has fallen below 1m for first time
- Campaigners are encouraging homeowners to create ‘hedgehog highways’
When was the last time you saw a hedgehog?
A survey carried out by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine found that 51% of people have not seen a hedgehog in the past year.
The reason for the decline in the spikey creatures is unknown but experts suggest that the main factors are a loss of habitat, road deaths and an increase in hedgehogs falling victim to badgers.
Barbara Roberts, 66, founded Withington Hedgehog Care Trust back in 2002 as she believed that there was little help out there for them. As well as running a hedgehog hospital with six other volunteers, Barbara also gives talks to vets to advise on how best to care for them.
She was rewarded for her efforts with a British Empire Medal in the 2015 New Year's honours list.
Her love for the prickly animal emerged when one fell into the pond in her garden over 30 years ago. She has been dedicated to caring for them ever since and is now campaigning for more exposure for her trust so the public in Manchester will know where to take a sick hedgehog should they find one.
But Barbara is worried that the hedgehog will soon become extinct.
She said: “They’re beautiful creatures. What is terrible is how they are dying out. Last year I said there will be no hedgehogs in 10 years but I think it will be even sooner than that.”
The survey also discovered that the same people who had noticed the decline had done nothing to help protect them.
Experts say that cutting a hole in your fence, just a few inches means that hedgehogs don’t have to walk through a maze of fences to get around. If hedgehogs are isolated in small areas of greenery, it becomes difficult for them to feed and mate.
Spokesperson for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society said: “'Hedgehog numbers are in severe decline so we welcome any action to help them from both the public and would particularly like to encourage people to create hedgehog highways”.