BBC Suffolk and Suffolk Wildlife Trust Go the Whole Hog

Monday 7th March 2016

Many of us get off to a prickly start on a Monday morning – but Monday 7 March promises to be extra spiky as BBC Suffolk launch a new campaign to make Suffolk the most ‘hedgehog friendly’ county in the UK. Spearheaded by the Mark Murphy morning show the initiative looks to highlight the plight of our hedgehogs and look at ways we can all contribute to securing them a brighter future in our towns and countryside.

The campaign comes as Suffolk Wildlife Trust is awarded a grant from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). The funding will enable the Trust to begin offering practical advice and support to communities in Ipswich who want to do more for hedgehogs where they live – in addition the Trust will carry out monitoring exercises to look at the habits of ‘hogs in the town.

Ipswich was chosen based on information the Trust has been gathering from the public over the past two years. Its iSpy a Hedgehog survey resulted in more than 12,000 records (2500 of these were in Ipswich) detailing live sightings, instances of roadkill and locations where hedgehogs used to be present but have now disappeared.

The focus on Ipswich is particularly exciting as it looks as if the town is something of a hotspot for hedgehogs. The survey highlighted the importance of all Suffolk’s urban centres for the species as hedgehog records were sent in from Lowestoft to Newmarket – but it is in Ipswich where an existing population looks to sit alongside a real opportunity to improve habitat for them. In 2012 and 2013 the Trust was commissioned to carry out an audit of the town’s green spaces by Ipswich Borough Council. The audit revealed a rich natural network right across the town, including its beautiful parks as well as the cemetery, allotments and churchyards. Once you introduce gardens into this mix it’s easy to see how important Ipswich will be for Suffolk’s hedgehogs. The more people looking after their gardens in a hedgehog-friendly way the better it is for hedgehogs.

The partnership with BBC Suffolk’s Going The Whole ‘Hog Campaign is a fantastic opportunity to highlight Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s mission to reverse the fortune’s of the county’s hedgehogs and it will begin in style on 7 March. A hedgehog ‘crack team’ will convene in the garden of Ipswich resident Kathy Mills to launch the campaign live on air. The team will comprise of Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s hedgehog expert Dr Simone Bullion, as well as People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) Hedgehog Officer Henry Johnson and local wildlife watcher extraordinaire Jason ‘Wildlife Gadgetman’ Alexander. During the morning the team will talk about the situation for the species, their dramatic decline and what is being done to turn their fortunes around. They will be using the garden to demonstrate how simple changes can be hugely beneficial to hedgehogs (and a whole host of other wildlife).

Dr Simone Bullion, who is heading up the Trust’s efforts said:

‘The response to our hedgehog survey has been fantastic. It’s given us a baseline to inform our work for the species in the coming years. What was particularly evident is that our urban areas are very important. Hedgehogs still look to be hanging on in our towns – so it is imperative we do all we can to keep them there and make conditions even more hedgehog-friendly. The funding from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society will allow us to focus our efforts on Ipswich, encouraging residents to link up their gardens in the style of Hedgehog Street.’

Hedgehog Street was launched by BHPS and People’s Trust for Endangered Species in 2011 and has gone from strength-to-strength, encouraging over thirty seven thousand volunteers to link over ten thousand gardens with a hedgehog-sized hole in the fence. The Trust’s work in Ipswich will be inspired by the ethos of Hedgehog Street, and look to bring networks of people together who can encourage whole-neighbourhood action for hedgehogs.

Henry Johnson, Hedgehog Officer at PTES added:

‘Hedgehogs are still widespread in Suffolk, but the picture is changing rapidly. Focused initiatives like this are essential for delivering the vision of Hedgehog Street, and this is a shared vision: making sure the treasured hedgehog remains common in Britain. Working out what hedgehogs need in Ipswich will help us deal with the problem in every other town and city in the UK.’

Tune in to Radio Suffolk on the morning of 7 March to find out more about the campaign, and enjoy a full day of hedgehog-based broadcasting from the station. Visit Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s website to add a hedgehog record to our online map and for ideas on how to make your own garden more wildlife friendly – here you will also find links to BHPS and Hedgehog Street.

BBC Suffolk's Mark Murphy has championed the species and is gearing up for a county-wide campaign that aims to make Suffolk 'the most hedgehog-friendly' county. He said:

'I was shocked at the dramatic decline in numbers of our beloved hedgehogs but now we can all do something about it. On BBC Radio Suffolk we will be going “The Whole Hog” by telling our listeners how to make their gardens hedgehog friendly. We will make Suffolk the first hedgehog friendly county in the country!

Our hedgehogs may still be asleep, but let’s make sure they wake up to a truly hedgehog-friendly Suffolk this spring.

  • We need to match fund our grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a dedicated hedgehog officer in Ipswich. If you'd like to help you can donate here.
     

Tagged with: BBC Suffolk, Hedgehogs