Hedgehog numbers in steep decline

Janette Jones of Chorley Hedgehog Rescue Centre
Janette Jones of Chorley Hedgehog Rescue Centre
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Half the population of the UK’s native hedgehogs has been lost from the countryside since the Millennium, according to a new report.

But not in Chorley where Janette Jones, 55, has turned her home into a rescue centre for the injured creatures.

“I’ve got hedgehogs in the shed, in the garage, in the summer house, the kitchen and now I’ve even got them in my lounge,” said Janette, whose home is bursting with 250 hedgehogs.

She set up the Chorley Hedgehog Rescue Centre three years ago to help rescue the animals which she says come to her injured from strimmers, emaciated and dehydrated.

Now, a report from two wildlife charities warns that at least half the population of native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), shows that hedgehogs in rural areas are in severe decline, with their numbers plummeting by half since the Millennium.

“There are many reasons hedgehogs are in trouble,” explains Emily Wilson, hedgehog officer for Hedgehog Street, a public action campaign run by PTES and BHPS. “The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

Janette said: “It’s devastating. Hedgehogs are in serious decline and it’s our fault.

“Everyone needs to do their bit putting out water and making holes in your fence so that they can forage.”

Tips to help hedgehogs:

• Avoid treating your garden with herbicide

• Pile up some logs in the corner of the garden

• A dish of fresh water can be vital in hot weather

• A diversity of plants rich in nectar will encourage insects

• Make a small hole – no bigger than a CD case – in your garden fence, wall and other barriers so that hedgehogs can access different gardens in their search for food, shelter and mates

• Hedgehogs make nests from deciduous leaves

• Log your hedgehog sightings – dead or alive – on The Big Hedgehog Map

For more visit www.hedgehogstreet.org