British Hedgehog Preservation Society – the hedgehog conservation charity
By Imogen Buller, Communications Officer - British Hedgehog Preservation Society
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is a UK registered conservation charity with a mission to protect the future and welfare of native British hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)
Based in Shropshire, the society was founded in 1982 by Major Adrian Coles who campaigned for hedgehog escape ramps to be fitted in cattle grids. We now have over 11,500 supporters and more than a quarter of a million followers and fans across our social media platforms.
The hedgehog is the UK’s only prickly mammal, and despite being voted Britain’s Favourite Wild Mammal, hedgehog numbers have been declining for many years. Research published recently in the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022 by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species shows that the decline in rural areas is much greater than in urban areas. Although hedgehogs are frequently spotted in gardens, parks and burial grounds, these sightings are becoming rarer - so rare that hedgehogs have now been classified as “Vulnerable to Extinction”.
From our head office in Clee Hill, Shropshire, our team work on campaigns, advocacy, educational projects and partnerships to raise awareness of what can be done to reverse the decline of hedgehogs in the wild, including practical steps to help hedgehogs, improve their welfare and safeguard the future of this much-loved animal.
Hedgehogs are a good ‘indicator' species. If hedgehogs are in trouble, then it is likely that lots of other species (including humans) will struggle too. If we take action to improve the environment for hedgehogs, we will be helping other species at the same time.
With this in mind, our work includes:
- Offering best practice guidance for the public for how to make the UK more hedgehog-friendly. Leaflets and other information can be downloaded from our website and we provide free information packs to schools, educational settings, community groups, animal rescue and rehabilitation centres.
- Funding research that helps build a better understanding of the British hedgehog population and its sustainability.
- Running a phoneline to offer advice to enquirers with sick, injured or orphaned wild hedgehogs and maintaining a directory of over 500 independent rehabilitators in the UK. We also produce best practice guidance for rehabilitators and veterinary practitioners.
- Providing advocacy and being an expert source of information to the public, businesses, government and other organisations regarding the conservation and welfare of native hedgehogs and their habitats in the UK and seeking further legal protection of the hedgehog as necessary. This includes lobbying and campaigning. One of our successful campaigns involved lobbying McDonalds to change their McFlurry packaging, when it was discovered that hedgehogs were getting their heads stuck inside. Eventually with our guidance McDonalds redesigned the containers to make the hole in the lid smaller to prevent hedgehogs getting trapped and printed a warning on the lid regarding the impact littering can have on wildlife. The Hedgehog Friendly Football League is our campaign to lobby professional football clubs to practice hedgehog-safe groundskeeping and to promote wildlife-friendly actions to their fans. We currently have over 40 clubs involved, including several premiership teams,
- Fundraising – including through our online shop, which sells an array of hedgehog-themed gifts alongside hedgehog food, hedgehog houses, books and signage, and through receiving financial donations and donated items, such as coins and scrap gold which are sorted and sold to raise money for the charity. We can even accept recycled cars to raise funds through the Give-A-Car Scheme.
- Partnership working with other conservation charities and organisations, including RSPCA, People’s Trust for Endangered (PTES) and Zoological Society London (ZSL). Hedgehog Street is one very successful public engagement project we jointly deliver in partnership with PTES which involves over 124,000 hedgehog champions. As part of this, we jointly fund a full-time Hedgehog Officer to champion hedgehogs as an at-risk species, and run Hedgehog Street, a central hub for information and research, including the Big Hedgehog Map – a place to log hedgehog sightings and Hedgehog Highways. Hedgehog Highways is one of our biggest Hedgehog Street initiatives, encouraging individuals and businesses to link up their land by putting 13x13cm square gaps in the bottom of their fences, walls and boundaries. One of the main reasons hedgehogs are struggling in Britain is because our gardens are becoming more and more secure, fragmenting the land available to them, and the Hedgehog Highways campaign with over 19,000 logged highways to date, is something we’re very proud of. In partnership with universities across the country, we run our Hedgehog Friendly Campus programme, which gives awards to universities, FE colleges and primary schools who complete actions to protect hedgehogs, enhance their habitat and educate others on how they can help.
To find out more about the work of BHPS, opportunities for collaboration and information on how to help hedgehogs email email@example.com, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, or visit www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
Top tips for businesses to become more hedgehog-friendly places:
Create 13cm x 13cm (5” x 5”) square gaps in your gardens, green spaces or boundaries as ‘hedgehog highways’ and ask those in your village or town to do the same. The more connections there are, the better for the hedgehog. You can even log your highway (and hedgehog sightings) on the BIG Hedgehog Map!
Make gardens, green spaces and car parks wildlife friendly – plant native flowers, make a log pile, stop using slug pellets or pesticides and leave corners or edges to grow a bit wild – all sorts of wildlife will appreciate your efforts!
Make sure maintenance staff and gardeners knows to check for hedgehogs before strimming or mowing and check compost heaps before sticking sharp forks in.
Put up a display of posters in your reception or public access areas – the British Hedgehog Preservation Society can supply poster packs for free!