04:02PM, Thursday 14 April 2022
Photo by Tom Marshall
Villagers in Charvil are one step closer to becoming one of the most wildlife-friendly villages in Berkshire thanks to a ‘help the hedgehogs’ project.
A renewed interest in garden maintenance – spurred on by the periods of pandemic lockdown – has resulted in the creation of hundreds of natural habitats for hedgehogs.
However, with more hedgehogs enjoying the spoils of Charvil’s leafy, green gardens, concern for their safety on the roads has risen, and a number of residents have stepped
forward to protect the thriving population.
Their most immediate mission was to a create a set of ‘hedgehog crossing signs,’ to be strategically placed around the village at high-speed locations.
Three residents – Karen Ostrowski, Dawn Brenton and Sarah Swatridge – asked councillors for help with the project. Their plea got immediate backing from Cllr Sam Akhtar (Con, Charvil).
He said: “I strongly supported this as someone who would love to see more hedgehogs in our gardens.”
The signs, which are now in place, emulate the red ‘warning’ triangles used nationally. It is hoped that they will attract attention and help to slow traffic.
The aim is to not only protect Charvil’s spiny-backed residents, but to earn the title of the most ‘hedgehog-friendly village in Wokingham Borough,’ inspiring other areas to follow suit.
“We hope our project will encourage other villages across Wokingham borough and Berkshire to become hedgehog friendly too,” continued Cllr Akhtar.
Julia Lofthouse, mammal project manager for the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), said: “We are really pleased to see these residents doing some great things to help hedgehogs. Sadly, these beautiful and iconic animals are under threat at the moment for completely avoidable reasons.
“Since the year 2000, hedgehog populations across the UK have plummeted by a third, and in 2020 they were classed as vulnerable to extinction in Great Britain. Like so much of our wildlife, one of the main reasons behind this decline is loss and fragmentation of habitat, partly from farmers removing hedgerows and woodlands, and also housing development.
“Thankfully, in recent years, we’ve actually seen hedgehog populations in urban areas start to stabilise and increase–- and that is partly thanks to people doing great things like these residents in Charvil.
“There are loads of other ways that we can help hedgehogs at home, and we would definitely encourage people to give them a try, such as making hedgehog holes in fences, putting hedgehog homes in their gardens, and leaving out the right sort of food – kitten biscuits or special hedgehog food.
“If we all take small actions, we can make a big difference and help these wonderful animals to thrive across our country once again.”
Charvil has upped the national number of ‘Hedgehog Champions’, a scheme run jointly by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Over 100,000 people have registered as offering ‘hedgehog friendly’ gardens and raising awareness of the ways local communities can work together.
Another national win for hedgehogs is the announcement earlier this month that it is now illegal to sell or use any metaldehyde slug pellets in the UK, which are deadly to hedgehogs.
Members of the public are encouraged to report stockists to their local environmental health department.
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