We have unfortunately lost over 1/3 of our hedgehogs since the millennium. Over 36 million once roamed the UK, however we are now looking at under a million left and still declining at the rate that tigers are worldwide. This is because of: pesticides, impermeable fencing, habitat loss, roads and a lack of wild areas just to name a few.
Hedgehog Heroes of Shropshire!
Gardens, hedgerows, woodlands, grasslands, parks, and cemeteries are all important hedgehog habitats, and everyone’s contribution is vital in keeping our hedgehogs around.
Gardens especially provide a space for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves, so by gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can help our spiky companions move around safely and find a home. That is where I come in!
My name is Kathryn Jones, and I am the new hedgehog officer trainee here at Shropshire Wildlife Trust. I recently graduated with a degree in ‘Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation’.
Throughout my studies, my mind was swayed to wanting to help our native wildlife instead of rushing off to save global species abroad. It dawned on me that we have wronged our wildlife, and it is our responsibility to now start to try and reverse what we have done.
Somewhere along the way, I became utterly obsessed with hedgehogs! My degree project focused on hedgehogs and I recognised how connectivity was largely responsible for their presence or lack thereof in gardens.
After completing this project, I was lucky to get my first graduate job as a recruiter for The Wildlife Trusts, before finally snatching up the role of trainee hedgehog officer which I believe was just meant to be.
Three weeks into being a hedgehog officer trainee with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and I am well underway with my first project – to make Little Wenlock a hedgehog-friendly town by following Ludlow’s example.
Signs have gone up around Ludlow in areas that have seen a high number of casualties to raise awareness of the presence of hedgehogs on the roads. Hopefully I can implement this in Little Wenlock, as well as conduct garden surveys, to assess connectivity and hedgehog-friendly garden features, plus helping those gardens that may not have any.
I am collecting hedgehog camera trap footage along my travels through Shropshire, keep an eye on my facebook page to see what I find.
Throughout my year I will be delivering activity days and workshops for people of all ages, including through the Feed the Birds project, which will encourage those that may be unable to get outside easily to monitor wildlife in their garden. It is always rewarding to let someone see photos and visual footprints of their own garden hedgehogs.
A vital date this year is going to be ‘Hedgehog Awareness Week’ the 3rd-9th May 2020. We are going to be updating our reserve equipment with brand new warning stickers on our strimmers, to remind users to look out for hedgehogs. There will be events throughout the week and I will be offering advice with special displays of hedgehog friendly garden features. Our toddler group that week will also temporarily turn into ‘hoglet’ session!
I'm also in contact with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Cuan Wildlife Rescue and the West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue for some fantastic collaborations, talks, and events throughout the rest of the year. Events will begin to occur from March, so keep an eye on our events page.
If you would like to get involved and become a hedgehog hero then volunteers will be welcome to help me undertake surveys and practical work. Footprint tunnel surveys are an important technique to gather visual evidence and it would be great to get people surveying their own garden.
It would be great to hear from you and do get in touch if you would like to be involved, or even to let me know of your sightings.
After all, who doesn't love hedgehogs?