Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is reminding members of the public to look out for hedgehogs before lighting their bonfires this Guy Fawkes night.
At this time of year many animals, including hedgehogs, go into hibernation, with unlit bonfires providing a perfect refuge.
The advice comes just weeks after the Trust launched ‘The Last Hedgehog in Staffordshire?’ campaign to raise awareness of the plight of hedgehogs.
To ensure hedgehog safety, members of the public should carry out these guidelines before building their bonfire:
· Build your bonfire as close to the night of your event as possible.
· If possible take the stack apart and re-build the bonfire just before lighting.
· Use broom handles to lift the base of the bonfire and shine torches looking and listening for any signs of life.
· Move any hedgehogs you find to a ready-made hedgehog box, or somewhere dry and safe away from the fire.
Hedgehog numbers are in decline in the UK due to factors such as pesticide use and loss of habitat due to development.
In addition to the risk posed by bonfires, hedgehogs are under increasing threat from motorists. Figures suggest 16 per cent of all animals killed on the road are hedgehogs.
Dr. Sue Lawley, head of living landscapes at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said:
“Whilst their spines may protect them from predators such as foxes, they are little defence against cars. As well as checking your unlit bonfires, I urge people to be careful while driving, especially at night, to try and reduce the number of hedgehog deaths on our roads.”
To find out more about ‘The Last Hedgehog in Staffordshire?’ campaign, visit www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/hedgehog