(Updated 5 February 2024)
SPC has launched its new environment project at the perfect time of year to help local hedgehogs through the winter. Not all hedgehogs hibernate and for those that do not it is a challenging time of year. Plus many that do hibernate may emerge briefly on milder days. Not to mention that free ‘Hedgehog Highway’ signs make ideal stocking fillers!
In 2020, hedgehogs were added to the red list of British mammals, categorised as ‘vulnerable to extinction’. Helping hedgehogs to pass freely through your garden is one of the most important actions residents can take to support them as they struggle to survive. To help the hedgehogs, SPC is giving away ‘Hedgehog Highway’ signs to encourage residents to create hedgehog highways in residential areas in the village.
Why take part in this SPC environmental project?
Hedgehogs are struggling, even though they are protected by British law. Rural hedgehogs are rapidly declining in number, with at least half lost since 2000. In more urban areas they are doing better, which is where Saltford residents can help. Hedgehogs can live happily alongside humans, and seemingly prefer gardens and grassland habitats. If residents can help enhance and connect residential areas in the village, this will help this struggling species survive.
The increase in secure fences has reduced the amount of land hedgehogs can access. Enclosed gardens can prevent hedgehogs from travelling their usual 1-2km every night to find enough food to survive (or to find a mate to make baby hedgehogs!). Hedgehogs can sometimes roam far and wide in the search for food and mates.
Saltford’s residents can help make life easier for local hedgehogs by removing barriers and improving connectivity between gardens. Creating holes in or under garden fences (13cm by 13cm so pets can’t escape) will enable hedgehogs pass from garden to garden.
In addition to creating a ‘hedgehog highway’ more information can be found in this Hedgehog Street publication for top tips for encouraging hedgehogs in your neighbourhood, with great ideas to make your garden more hedgehog friendly. Hedgehog Street is a joint project run by People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
How to take part:
Residents can collect a free sign from Saltford Parish Council before one of its full council meetings. Meetings are usually held on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:15pm in the Avon Room at Saltford Hall . Meeting details are on SPC’s website under ‘Meetings – Agendas and Minutes’ and SPC’s noticeboard by the shops. Residents are not obliged to stay for the meeting, but are very welcome to!
Please note that SPC is able to give away two signs per household. Those collecting signs must live in Saltford. Thanks to those who have collected Hedgehog Highway signs to date, and SPC will continue to give these away before its meetings and possibly at the Annual Parish Meeting on 1 March also.
SPC may also look to distribute signs via other methods, especially to younger residents to help encourage awareness of caring for the environment, as it did with its ‘Saltford Wildflower Project: All You Seed is Love‘ initiative.
The next step is to visit the https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/link-your-garden/ website for details on how to create a hole in your fence. The signs can then be secured above a hedgehog hole in your fence to make sure it is not accidently blocked in the future.
You may want to collect a sign for your neighbour’s side too. Either way, please let your neighbour know that you are creating a hole in your fence for hedgehogs so that they don’t block it on their side.
Residents are then encouraged to add their newly created ‘Hedgehog Highway’ to The Big Hedgehog Map at https://bighedgehogmap.org/ You can also add hedgehog sightings to this map so other residents can track hedgehog activity in Saltford.
Each sign is made from recycled plastic and has pre-drilled holes for screws (sorry, screws not included) and measure approx. 13cm x 8cm (5 x 3 inches). Each sign also has the ‘www.hedgehogstreet.org’ website on for future reference.
Funds from the purchase of each sign by SPC have gone to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Thank you for taking part in this SPC project to help support Saltford’s hedgehogs!
A hedgehog on Claverton Road in 2020 (in the quieter days of the pandemic), taken by Cllr Phil Harding
Signs are small and blend into gardens, but serve as helpful reminders once installed to ensure good connectivity for foraging hedgehogs.
Thanks to Cllr Paul Smith for creating a Hedgehog Highway and his photo of the sign in place (above).
It’s also important to keep a gap under side gates for hedgehog access too (photo above by Cllr Phil Harding). Signs serve as a helpful reminder.
Copies of SPC’s ‘Hedgehog Highways’ project can be collected with signs for resident’s information