Herefordshire hedgehogs to be protected
A recent study has shown that the UK population of hedgehogs has declined from around 30 million to only 1 million.
Whilst it is not yet a European Protected Species it is a British mammal where the population is in steep decline, and today Herefordshire councillors unanimously agreed to investigate and include measures for adaptation and mitigation for the protection of hedgehogs to a level comparable to that required for European Protected Species.
This includes looking at where current policies need to be enhanced, for example in planning, and to invest officer and councillor time, such as Councillor Chowns’ Nature Strategy.
Cllr Yolande Watson told Ross-on-line: “I am delighted there was unanimous support from colleagues on today’s motion. The hedgehog is a much loved mammal and is an important, ancient emblem of Ross-on-Wye. Policies that preserve hedgehogs and their habitats will help humans. Our lives are inextricably linked because we share the same ecosystem and rely on pollinators for food.”
Ross-on-Wye is lucky to have a number of hedgehogs in and around the town, so it is important to look out for them where we can.
Below are some tips on how to encourage hedgehogs into your garden from the hedgehog society:
1.) link your garden – Hedgehogs roam between 1-2km each night during their active season. It’s therefore critical that they can access a wide range of gardens. 13 x 13cm (5 x 5”) holes in walls or fences will let hedgehogs through but be too small for most pets.
2.) If you have a pond, make it safe – Hedgehogs are adept swimmers, but if they can’t climb out of steep-sided ponds or pools they will drown. Use a pile of stones, a piece of wood or some chicken wire to create a simple ramp.
3.) Create a wild corner – Let the plants go mad in a corner of your garden, and don’t cut them back in winter and hedgehogs might nest here. They’ll also benefit from the abundant insects. Use branches to add structure.
4.) Deal with litter and netting – Hedgehogs are prone to getting tangled. Polystyrene cups, plastic, and elastic bands are all common offenders. Replace netting with a rigid structure or use a thick cordage and keep taut. Sports and garden netting should be tied up or stored inside when not in use.
5.) Put out food and water – Hedgehogs really benefit from extra food, using it as a supplement to their natural diet. Meaty cat or dog food, and hedgehog food is all suitable. Water can also be scarce at certain times of the year and is the only thing you should give them to drink.
6.) Stop using chemicals – Lawn treatments reduce worm populations. Pesticides, insecticides and slug pellets are toxic and reduce hedgehogs’ creepy crawly prey. They are all unnecessary in a healthy, well-managed garden.
7.) Check before strimming – Hedgehogs will not run away from the sound of a mower or strimmer – check before you cut and avoid causing horrific injuries or death. Single hedgehogs are easily moved, but use gloves! Moving a hedgehog family is more complicated and ideally they should be left undisturbed – call BHPS for advice on 01584 890801.
8.) Be careful with bonfires – Piles of debris are irresistible to a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate or nest – build it on the day of burning or move the pile on the day of burning to avoid a tragic end.
9.) Build a log pile – One of the best features for encouraging all kinds of wildlife – and so easy to make. It will encourage insects and provide nesting opportunities all year round.
Pictured below is Councillor Yolande Watson (Ross-on-Wye hedgehog champion) who seconded the cross party motion by Councillor Elissa Swinglehurst.