The Wild Watch in Nidderdale is launching ‘Hedgehog Watch’ for Hedgehog Awareness Week (5-11 May).
With some reports suggesting hedgehogs could become extinct in pockets of the UK by 2025, never has there been more of a need to give hogs the limelight they deserve.
The Wild Watch project aims to engage local people with the wildlife of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, learn new skills and take part in the area’s biggest ever wildlife survey.
Alice Crosby, Wild Watch Project Officer, said: “Following on from our successful Owl Watch, we’re keen to get the public involved in the plight of hedgehogs. As well as spotting a hedgehog, we want to raise awareness on the practical things you can do to help protect one of the nation’s favourite creatures.”
Event Assistant volunteers have visited seven primary schools around Nidderdale AONB talking to children about how they can be a hedgehog hero. Hedgehogs are being lost from the countryside at a faster rate than in the cities, due to intensification of agriculture, road kill and predation.
The Wild Watch team hosts regular training sessions, from moth catching to aquatic mammals, to help volunteers acquire the natural history skills they need to collect data on the threatened species of Nidderdale. The data is used to inform conservationists’ work on safeguarding species and habitat.
Alice said: “We’ll be launching our Hedgehog Watch postcards soon so the public can send us their sightings. The more we know about them, the better we can protect them. It’s a shocking fact that hedgehogs in the UK are declining at a faster rate than tigers globally. Working together, we can help our hedgehogs.”
The campaign coincides with a new Channel 5 series: Saving Britain’s Hedgehogs, starring Steve Backshall and rock legend, Dr Brian May.
Hedgehogs are an important resident in the UK as they are natural pest controllers of slugs and other insects.
How to help hedgehogs in your garden:
- Create hedgehog homes (stack up logs, pile of leaves and brash)
- Cut a hole the size of a CD case in the bottom of your fence/ wall to create a hedgehog highway. If we link up surrounding land then we can increase the connectivity of hedgehog populations and increase their numbers.
- Put out water and food (they like cat food) for hungry hedgehogs coming out of hibernation.
You can get involved by emailing your hedgehog sightings to the Wild Watch Team at email@example.com. Please email the date, time and location (grid ref or postcode) of the sighting and put ‘Hedgehog Watch’ as the email subject. Keep an eye out for the Hedgehog Watch postcodes in the AONB too.