Students work to create spike in hedgehog population

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Building houses for hedgehogs and litter picking are the latest activities students have got involved in to ensure the University’s campuses offer an environment for the nation’s favourite spiny mammal to flourish.

During October and early November (prior to lockdown), students and staff have been creating the homes and cleaning up as part of the Hedgehog Friendly Campus project.

Joey Moodie and Kaylee Sprigmore
Joey Moodie and Kaylee Sprigmore

The recent efforts bring the University closer to receiving a bronze award for the scheme, following on from a hedgehog first aid webinar and a hedgehog survey webinar held earlier this year. The survey was aimed at providing volunteers with simple hedgehog surveying techniques as well as encouraging them to set up hedgehog houses in their own backyards while they were away from our campuses.

Run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society nationally, the Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative aims to improve University staff and students’ awareness of hedgehogs and increase hedgehog numbers on and around campuses.

The project responds to the serious decline in the UK of the hedgehog population, with the number in rural areas plummeting by as much as 50 per cent and in urban areas by 30 per cent, since the beginning of the 21st-century.

The project at the University of Chester is led by Rebecca Turner, Laboratory Manager for Biological Sciences, with the litter pick organised in collaboration with the Sustainability Unit and the Grounds and Gardens team supporting the efforts to create new hedgehog homes.

Student Olivia Dagnall said: “I was excited to hear about the litter picking as it offered an opportunity to meet like-minded students who care about their campus and the environment.”

Olivia Dagnall and Sufyan Mukadam
Olivia Dagnall and Sufyan Mukadam

Tamara Hunt, Sustainability Officer, said: “The Hedgehog Friendly Campus project has really captured the imagination of our students and staff. It’s been fantastic to see students building hedgehog houses with staff during the last few weeks.

“Partnering up to arrange the litter picking events across the campuses on November 4 was a great opportunity to really raise awareness of how our everyday actions affect the wildlife on our doorstep, as well as improving how the campus looks; the students collected three bags of rubbish during the morning.

“We’re looking at ways we can support students to carry out their own litter picks in the coming weeks and be able to participate in the national competition to win a hog house for the campus.”

Rebecca Turner added: “Since registering the University of Chester for this campaign in April 2020, I have been completely overwhelmed by the support I have received from our students. We have run various events both online and on campus that student volunteers have really engaged with.

“Not only is this campaign helping to raise awareness of hedgehogs but it has also been effective at bringing our student community together in such challenging times. Thank you to all who have volunteered for the campaign so far.”

Rebecca and the team are also raising money for the BHPS by holding a hedgehog themed prize draw and quiz. To enter the prize draw, simply donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rebecca-turner45 and leave your name so that you can be contacted if you win one of the huge array of hedgehog-themed prizes and homemade goodies.

The prize draw is open for entries until Tuesday December 15 when the team will host a free festive hedgehog quiz, on Zoom, from 5.30pm. The winners’ names will be drawn and announced at this event. To register for the quiz, please visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/chesters-festive-hedgehog-quiz-tickets-128853547429

To find out more about ways you can support the Hedgehog Friendly Campus project, please email: rebecca.turner@chester.ac.uk

 Further details are also available at: www.facebook.com/University-of-Chester-Hedgehog-Friendly-Campus-103458491562566

https://twitter.com/HedgehogsUoC

 and https://instagram.com/HedgehogsUoC