Posted on 25 June 2019
The once prevalent and well loved hedgehog population has fallen into an alarming rate of decline in recent years, threatened by an increase in road traffic, habitat fragmentation, poisoning and littering. In an attempt to provide a refuge, the University has registered as a Hedgehog Friendly Campus. The scheme, which is funded by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, has been organised so that everyone can play a part in protecting their local wildlife.
To get involved please message the University of York Hedgehog society on Facebook.
On Sunday 26 May the University hosted its first public hedgehog awareness day, drawing a crowd of staff, students and visitors all keen to know more. The day was packed with inspirational talks, offering top tips on how to care for hedgehogs, along with details of exciting new moves to make the campus a hedgehog friendly environment.
Renowned hedgehog rescuer Gill Dixon revealed how the UK’s hedgehog population is fast approaching dangerous levels of decline, equivalent to that of the tiger. She explained:
“For thousands for years these little creatures have roamed the earth and in just fifty years we have seen human interference result in a rapid decline in numbers. We owe it to them to reverse this change” explained Gill. “Unfortunately, these friends of the garden are susceptible to numerous natural challenges without the added pressures from humans”.
Professor Nia Bryant spoke about the ways in which people can care for prickly families over the winter:
“I had no idea what to do when I discovered three youngsters, but I knew they needed help. Fortunately I was put in touch with Kathleen from Stillingfleet Hedgehog Rescue. She nursed them back to health and showed me how to overwinter them in our quickly converted conservatory back at home. Who knew it could be so much fun and so rewarding? I’m thrilled to say that all three have successfully been released back into the wild this spring”.
University estates manager Gordon Eastham revealed the habitats that the campus grounds offer to wildlife:
“We are implementing a range of measures across the estate to help awareness and have initiated training for the ground staff include fitting warning stickers to strimmers to help reduce one of the greatest causes of serious injury to the hedgehogs, especially at this time of the year”.
Naburn Primary School and Lord Deramore’s Primary School were represented with some fantastic hand drawn pictures from pupils on display. Two hedgehog feeding stations were presented as prizes for the best picture from each school.
The successful event was rounded off with a cross party insight from councillors Andy D’agorne and Claire Douglas, on local council initiatives for hedgehogs, including working with developers to ensure new builds are hog friendly environments, complete with hedgehog highways as standard.