Over 30,000 gardeners have pledged to help Britain’s dwindling hedgehog population by cutting holes in their garden fences, as part of the ‘Hedgehog Street’ initiative.
British hedgehogs have fallen by a third over the last 10 years, making them as critically endangered as tigers. Experts believe that increasing urbanisation and the trend for small, tidy gardens are among the reasons behind the decline.
The nocturnal mammals are thought to travel around one mile per night, making their way across gardens, parks and fields in search of food and mates. However, if a hedgehog finds its path blocked by a solid wall or fence, it could struggle to find enough food or meet with a mate for breeding.
To help overcome this problem, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have developed the ‘Hedgehog Street’ campaign, which encourages gardeners to unite for the good of the nation’s only spiny mammal.
By signing up to become a ‘Hedgehog Champion’, gardeners agree to cut five-inch square gaps in their fences, which will allow hedgehogs to pass freely between gardens, without the risk of household pets escaping. Supporters also receive a resource pack to help them recruit their friends and neighbours onto the scheme.
‘Hedgehogs need access to lots and lots of different gardens to survive, so this campaign is as much about getting people to cooperate as it is about gardening for wildlife,’ said Henry Johnson of the Hedgehog Street team.
So far, 34,572 Hedgehog Champions have registered on Hedgehog Street.
Nature lovers can find out more ways in which they can help save the hedgehog during this autumn’s Wild About Gardens Week (October 26th to November 1st). This year, the annual celebration of garden wildlife, hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts, will include a competition to design the best hedgehog home and a series of hedgehog-themed events around the UK.
The hedgehog was voted the UK’s favourite wild animal in a BBC poll in July 2013.