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#Science

Celebrities urge gardeners to save hedgehogs

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Wildlife trusts across the UK are urging members of the public to help out in saving the hedgehog population in the UK and backing their call are celebrities including Twiggy, Ben Fogle, Bill Oddie and Chris Beardshaw.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts have joined forces for the annual celebration of garden wildlife through the Wild About Gardens Week this autumn. Hedgehog Street has joined in for the celebration this year to highlight what gardeners can do to help this much-loved yet fast-declining species and is hosting competitions, and events throughout the week. Visit www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk for more details.

Celebrities have voiced their support for the Wild About Gardens Week explaining how we can all help. Ben Fogle, Patron, British Hedgehog Preservation Society, says: “Everybody loves hedgehogs! It’s a tragedy that they are disappearing so quickly particularly when it’s so easy to help them. We can all have a go at planting a native hedge, creating gaps in fences for them to pass through, leaving leaf or log piles and allowing parts of the garden to grow wild to give them a home.”

Chris Beardshaw, RHS Ambassador for Community Gardening, says: “As gardeners, we often forget that that the garden is a refuge for our smaller visitors, many of whom have directed and influenced our appreciation of the outdoor environment. Thanks to starring roles in children’s poetry and prose, the likes of bats, owls and squirrels have all played a part, not just in opening our eyes to our gardens and landscape, but as a major connection to our childhood. Some of these distinctive creatures are in decline, in particular the hedgehog – a curiously shy creature which asks very little of gardeners. In fact they even allow us to be a little untidy as they use the leaves and logs for habitat and in return they will munch happily on the molluscs ravaging our favoured plants. When we are tending our gardens please give some thought for the residents and visitors who can benefit from our green spaces and reward us in so many ways.”

Bill Oddie, The Wildlife Trusts’ Vice President, says: “I can honestly say that I have not come across a wild hedgehog anywhere – whether in the woods or countryside or garden or my garden – for something like three or four years. That is really sad because, let’s face it, they’re one of these little creatures which everyone knows – Mrs Tiggywinkle. It’s an animal that everybody loves. Nobody’s frightened of them. Hedgehogs do a fantastic job in your garden munching up worms in particular, the odd slug occasionally and, I dare say, they’ve been known to crunch open a few snails. Basically the hedgehog is the gardener’s friend. There’s no two ways about that. But not just that they are a delightful addition to your garden fauna –the birds, the animals, the insects – the hedgehogs, they belong there. We need them. They should be part of it. But if you are lucky enough to have them, you’ve got to make it possible for them to get in and to get out. Think of it as the hedgehog door – to food, to adventure and the way back home.”

Twiggy, Patron of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, says: “Seeing hedgehogs in our garden when I was a child was a magical experience. Now we all need to help these special mammals – and there’s so much that gardeners can do to reverse their decline. You can cut a small hedgehog hole at the bottom of your garden fence, leave wild nesting and hibernation areas, ditch the slug pellets and check that bonfire before striking the match! All so easy to do. Please help these wonderful creatures.”