AN ANIMAL charity has organised a special weekend to help people keep hedgehogs and other wildlife safe over bonfire celebrations.
On October 13 and 14, Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service founder Trevor Weeks MBE will hold hour-long sessions about hedgehog awareness. These will include meeting a real live hedgehog at WRAS’s Wildlife Hospital based at Whitesmith on the A22.
He said: “Every year we believe thousands of animals die in bonfires across the country. Hedgehogs are one of the main wild mammals which are known to get caught and end up being admitted into care but many don’t get the chance to escape. We’ve tips on how to keep hedgehogs and wildlife safe around bonfire night. Every year we have at least one burnt hedgehog to deal with.”
He went on: “These sessions were popular in the spring and we hope that there will be just as much interest this time. These free sessions will look at hedgehogs in general, their habits, behaviour, problems they encounter and we will particularly talk about bonfire safety and how to ensure hedgehogs do not end up becoming unseen victims of bonfires. Visitors will also get the opportunity to meet one of our hedgehog patients up close too.”
Numbers are limited to 15 people per session, and will take place at 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm on Saturday and noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm on the Sunday. The course is free but there is a suggested minimum donation of £5 per person. Refreshments will also be available. To book call 01825 873003 between 10am and 6pm.
To keep hedgehogs safe, re-site the entire bonfire pile before you light it; use broom handles to lift the bonfire up and check for wildlife sleeping inside and use torches to check and listen for signs of life. With larger fires, put a mesh overhang fence over the fire site and light it at one side rather than all round. Move feeders and other food on the ground well away from the site before building your bonfire and use fireworks away from trees and woodland. If you can make a hedgehog house or simple, small hutch with fresh straw, hay and paper to provide an alternative home for any animals which visit your garden. Keep a bucket of water handy to put out a fire and know who to call if you find an injured wildlife casualty.