Changes Start with... THE SPARK "at the heart of the alternative west country"

Hedgehog Street. Avon Wildlife Trust's hedgehog survey

The Avon Wildlife Trust is calling on streets and neighbourhoods across Sparkland to join a national campaign dubbed "Hedgehog Street" to save the hedgehog.

Steve Micklewright of Avon Wildlife Trust said, "Hundreds of people have already reported their hedgehog sightings, now we are asking them to link up with their neighbours to ensure hedgehogs have everything they need to survive."

Just like people, hedgehogs need certain things to be able to live in a neighbourhood, Steve added. "A Hedgehog Street needs to provide log piles for hedgehogs to sleep in, hedges and longer grass for insect food and perhaps a kind person to put out food."

And this can only be done if people work together, Steve said: "A typical hedgehog will hike at least a mile each night to find food and it may have several refuges where it likes to sleep during the day. So if we work together, we can create the perfect neighbourhood for hedgehogs."

Coordinated nationally by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Hedgehog Street is a repeat of a project that took place in 1988 that will enable the Trust to find out about the distribution of hedgehogs in the region and how it has changed in the last 20 years.

Laura Bower of PTES said, "Twenty-three million households have access to a garden in the UK covering around 433,000 hectares. Reaching a modest 0.1% of these could lead to the creation of a hedgehog refuge larger than the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (or half the area of existing nature reserves in Avon). We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to become hedgehog champions in their local area. We will help them encourage their neighbours to take action for hedgehogs in their gardens or communal green spaces."

The West Country is a perfect place for this to happen, Steve added: "Over 700 people have already taken part in our Wild Hedgehogs survey, with several people reporting the same hedgehogs in different parts of the same area.  If just a few people worked together, we could really ensure that these populations thrive and survive."

Hedgehog populations are thought to have declined by at least 30% in 20 years.  There are many reasons for this including:

* Historic loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands in the countryside;

* Intensification of agriculture and larger field sizes;

* Pesticide use reducing the amount of insect food available in the countryside;

* Tidy, sterile, impenetrable gardens providing less places for hedgehogs to live and feed.

The first step in the survey is to know where hedgehogs are to make sure all this community effort is worthwhile, so the Trust is still urging people to report their hedgehog sightings first.

Steve said, "Just visit Wildhedgehogs.org.uk to report your hedgehog sighting and find a link to the Hedgehog Street project, where you can register to become a champion for hedgehogs in your area."

For more information call Steve on 07521 498633/ 0117 917 7270.

 

British Hedgehog Preservation Society

People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)

Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve

www.wildhedgehogs.org.uk

 

Bill Heaney. Summer 2011. Online exclusive.

 

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