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Ben Fogle lends support to local hedgehogs
A CHARITY based in Clee Hill has enlisted the support of television personality Ben Fogle to hammer home a message about the perils of bonfires for a much loved wild creature.
Every year an unknown number of hedgehogs die or suffer horrific injuries because bonfire piles are not checked before being lit.
To save hedgehogs and other wildlife from appalling suffering the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) urges that bonfires should not be built until the day they are to be lit.
“Piles of bonfire material look like five star hotels to a hedgehog in search of a hibernation site,” said Fay Vass, chief executive of the society.
“It is crucial to dismantle and move bonfire material that has been stored in advance on open g round. Move it to another spot just before lighting.
"Ensure it’s moved to clear ground - never on top of a pile of leaves as there could be a hedgehog underneath, and not too close to pampas g rass which can ignite very easily and is another favourite spot for hedgehogs to hide under.”
Ben Fogle, who is patron to the society, asks people to always check for hedgehogs under a fire before lighting it.
“If a large bonfire has to be built in advance, protect it while building by putting some chicken wire one metre high all the way around the bottom,”
“This should be held in place with stakes and the wire should slope outwards at an angle to make it difficult to climb, as hedgehogs are good climbers.”
Fay Vass has advice on what to do if a search reveals hedgehogs.
“As hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, check by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom,”
“Never use a spade or fork as these can stab them. Using a torch will help and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed.
“If hedgehogs are found, take as much of the nest as you can and place them in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of newspaper or old towelling.
Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box.
“Wear garden gloves so as not to get human smells on them and to minimise stress caused to the hedgehog, also, it protects your hands from their spikes.
"Put the box in a safe place, such as a shed or garage, well away from the festivities, as fireworks can terrify them and offer them meaty cat or dog food and fresh water to drink.
“Once the bonfire is totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs with more food and water.”
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