A petition on change.org calling on Housing and Planning Minister Kit Malthouse to make the integration of hedgehog highways compulsory in all new build housing developments has taken everyone by surprise. In just two weeks over 300,000 people have signed!
Why has this taken the public by storm? The hedgehog is the nation’s favourite animal – every poll tells the same story. Yet the hedgehog is suffering from a dramatic population decline. The latest State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report from the Hedgehog Street Campaign shows how in just the last 18 years urban hedgehog numbers are down by 30% and rural hedgehogs down by 50%.
Hugh Warwick, Ecologist, Author and Communications Officer for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) started the petition “We know that hedgehog numbers are declining,” he said, “and we know that one of the biggest problems they face is the way we chop our land up into smaller pieces. This often happens when new fences are put in place – and as we are facing a house building boom there are going to be hundreds of thousands of new barriers to hedgehog movement.”
Perhaps surprisingly, new housing can help hedgehogs, if it is done with wildlife in mind. The petition is calling on Kit Malthouse to do just that – make sure all new fences have hedgehog holes built into them. Just a 13cm square, these holes help hedgehogs move the considerable distances we know they can travel each night – over a mile is not uncommon.
Hugh continues “Couple this with wildlife sensitive planting, ponds, and bat and swift bricks, new housing estates can offer homes for hedgehogs and other wildlife as well as for people.”
Fay Vass, Chief Executive of BHPS adds “This petition is aimed at making new build sites better for hedgehogs, but improvements can also easily be made in existing homes too! Hedgehog Street is a project we run with People’s Trust for Endangered Species and its website offers a wealth of information and advice for homeowners wanting to help our prickly friends, you can even sign up to be a Hedgehog Champion!”