Amazing Grace PR 25th April 2016
Saving Britain’s hedgehogs - one village at a time When was the last time you saw a hedgehog? It seems for more and more of us the answer is ‘years ago’, before we recall hearing them ‘snuffling’ around our gardens in search of food and water.
The decline in Britain’s hedgehogs has been rapid; during the 1960s it was estimated that Britain had around 35 million hedgehogs but by 2015 that estimate had dropped to under 1 million.
So where have all the hedgehogs gone you might ask and the truth is that there isn’t one simple answer. It is a combination of factors, mostly associated to modern living and farming techniques that have systematically separated and removed the food and habitat from our favourite wild animal.
The picturesque village of Windlesham, in the heart of Surrey’s commuter belt nestled between the M3 and the A30 may not seem the obvious choice to save Britain’s hedgehogs, but Anne Brummer who founded the Rescue centre from her home over thirty years ago has got to know the area and wildlife so well over that time, that is was a natural choice.
We named the campaign Amazing Grace; Grace is a rescue hedgehog who came to us orphaned and suffering from a deep cut to her neck, luckily she soon responded to the treatment and care, however, she didn’t weigh enough to survive hibernation, so, it was decided that she would ‘over-winter’ with us before being released back to the wild.
Whilst at the rescue centre, Grace became the star in a series of short video’s to highlight some of the threats and dangers that hedgehogs face everyday in our modern world, it was during this time that she won the heart of rock legend Brian May, guitarist and founding member of Queen, who has been supporting the rescue centre for many years.
Brian was so moved by the plight of Britain’s hedgehogs that he offered to record his version of the classic song ‘Amazing Grace’ with his friend, singer and actress, Kerry Ellis.
Brian said “How shocking that hedgehogs are in danger of extinction in this country. We have destroyed most of the hogs' habitat by over-development, and ruined what’s left with poisons and restrictions on their movement. We CAN unite and give these wonderful creatures a chance. Help us spread the news.”
"Amazing Grace is a community led campaign to save Britain’s hedgehogs - one village or town at a time" said Anne Brummer. "We have lots of tips and advice about how you can make your garden, office grounds, community green space or farmland hedgehog friendly and if its good for hedgehog’s, it will benefit other wildlife as well”
Making Windlesham hedgehog friendly is all about the community coming together and working as one to save our hedgehogs’. Like many villages, we have seen a lot of new development for much needed housing, however the loss of green and brown field sites, woodland copse and farmland has all impacted on our wildlife, but that isn’t the only reason hedgehogs are rapidly declining: a lot of the problems are from changes in the way we live in the modern world.
Back in 1970 the UK had around 8 million cars on the road, by 2015 the number was 25.8 million: road kill is a major killer of all wildlife, in the home and garden things have also changed, many people have gravelled or concreted the front garden for extra parking space, many gardens have panelled fencing instead of post and rail. Gardens are laid to lawn for low maintenance, without hedges, shrubs or flower beds that provide vital cover for wildlife, whilst many gardeners’ and farmers use herbicides on a routine and ongoing basis to destroy ‘garden pests’ such as slugs and snails but these are the food source for hedgehogs and birds and if you poison the slugs - you will poison the natural predators that would help to control them.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but provides an insight that we hope will get people thinking and finding better solutions to some of the problems we are causing to the other creatures we share this planet with.
Windlesham’s new acquired status of ‘Hedgehog friendly village’ comes at the start of the National Hedgehog Awareness Week - an annual campaign run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. This years campaign focuses on getting grounds contractors, professional gardeners, Council’s and tool hire companies to label their equipment with special stickers.
For further information or interview enquiries please contact:
Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue
Tel: 01344 623106