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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis. PRESS STATEMENT:


PRESS STATEMENT:

Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis.

Why local eccentric activist Harry Palmer made an historic public appeal.

FACTS:

1 in 3 gardens no longer have an annual visiting hedgehog.

1 in 8 children have never seen a hedgehog.


On Saturday 22nd November 2008 at 3pm, Harry Palmer publicly spoke about his concerns for the hedgehog crisis at the Bullring near the historic St Martin’s church in Birmingham. Mr Palmer, a self proclaimed eccentric archaeologist, reinstated a public meeting as a matter of urgency and historic relevance, particularly in regard to hedgehogs.

In the heart of Birmingham a blue heritage plaque, placed ten feet on the side of the rag market, largely goes unnoticed. Until it’s pointed out, many have never seen the sign which states ‘Near here stood the old market cross. Public meetings took place here in the 18th Century.’ It was this sign and its significance combined with his love of hedgehogs that inspired Harry to talk openly about the safeguarding of this lovely creature.


With all the focus on the credit crisis, perhaps we should also consider the challenges concerning the humble hedgehog. Whilst the spotlight is on our own economic survival and security, the simple and shocking fact is that the hedgehog is under threat. According to Dr Pat Morris, considered the godfather of British hedgehogs by 2025 the poor old animal may well be extinct. Indeed, since the mid 1990s, it is estimated that hedgehogs have declined by over a half. Reasons are varied. This year after the recent cold weather, wildlife sanctuaries are being inundated with starving baby hedgehogs. Juvenile hedgehogs are particularly vulnerable and admissions to the centres are abnormally high.

Environmental issues are not helping. With wetter summers and warmer autumns, hedgehogs are having second litters later in the year making the newly born unable to survive. Unfavourable conditions of poor food supply and necessary warmth and shelter prior to hibernation add to the threat. Malnutrition is now a major factor with many hoglets weighing less than 300 grams are more than ever prone to the effects of starvation. Simply put, hedgehogs simply cannot cope with all the changes.

What other facts effect the humble hedgehog and its imminent plight? The habitat of hedgehogs in cities and towns has significantly altered. Gardens have less hedging of course, being replaced by wooden or brick fencing. Increasingly paved patios and slab-stone frontages have replaced gardens adding to the downturn of plant life and hedgerows. Simply put, less fauna and flora negatively affects the ecosystem. Swallows and bees are now reported to be struggling due to changing habitats and environmental circumstances. It’s an unsettling truth also that pollutants and toxic waste, plastic bags and empty containers - crisp packets, sandwich wrappers and plastic beakers for example, make the curious hedgehog susceptible to potential poisoning and suffocation.

So what can we do to help prevent any further number of hedgehogs from dying?

There are number of things that will help:

1. If you see a hedgehog in daylight, then it is likely to be malnourished and needs attention. Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures. It is best to seek advice (details below).

2. Lawn-mowing can be dangerous to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs may be in the undergrowth and many have been killed due to gardening accidents. Steady as you go!

3. Don’t feed hedgehogs milk or bread. They should be given meat based catfood and water.

4. Be careful with household rubbish and waste. Don’t leave plastic bags or containers etc.. outdoors. Hedgehogs are inquisitive and will find places to explore. Be careful clearing up any areas where you have piled-up wood, boxes etc.. as hedgehogs may well be hiding and resting.

5. Plant hedges and plantlife in your garden. Before adding any major areas with patio and paving stones, consider the environmental impact. Less greenery means less wildlife which damages the ecosystem.

6. Love nature and wax lyrical. Tell others about how much you love nature and that about the hedgehog crisis. Give people tips on how to deal with a hedgehog situation. Solutions encourage a positive culture of empathy and support.

For more detailed information / emergency:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
Tel: 01584 890801

West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue
http://www.west-midlands-hedgehogs.co.uk/

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