Suffolk Wildlife Trust celebrates Hedgehog Awareness Week with giant mural

Monday 1st May 2017

ATM Hedgehog in Somerset

To celebrate Ipswich as a Hedgehog Hotspot Suffolk Wildlife Trust is marking Hedgehog Awareness Week with a giant hedgehog mural on a town centre wall. Street artist ATM will create the artwork over three days. He is known for highlighting the plight of threatened species across the world.

Hedgehog Awareness Week, led by British Hedgehog Preservation Society, takes place from Sunday 30 April to Saturday 6 May. It aims to draw attention to hedgehog conservation issues in the UK and this year its focus is on the dangers of strimming for hedgehogs. Fay Vass, BHPS Chief Executive said:

In 2016 Suffolk Wildlife Trust employed hedgehog officer Ali North after it was discovered that Ipswich, with its rich networks of parks and green spaces, is something of a hedgehog hotspot. Since then, Ali has been out and about in the hedgehog van working with whole neighbourhoods to link habitat for hedgehogs. She has even been awarding green plaques to garden owners creating new access routes:

In addition to the mural Ali has an extra special nighttime adventure lined up. A Night Safari in Holywells park on Friday 5th May from, 8:15pm - 10:00pm. Participants will be able to hunt out the elusive nocturnal wildlife of Holywells Park. Thermal imaging and night vision technology will be used to look for hedgehogs and other mammals, as well as using light traps to identify moths.The Suffolk Bat Group will also bring bat detectors. There will of course be an opportunity to find out more about hedgehog recording, becoming an Ipswich Hedgehog Champion and a chance to get involved in a monitoring scheme using gardens across Ipswich.

Booking for this event is essential: http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/events/2017/05/05/night-safari-holywells-park?instance=0

Ipswich parks are a crucial refuge for hedgehogs and the park ranger service has been hugely supportive of Ali's work. Ipswich Borough Council Wildlife & Education Ranger Joe Underwood said: “We are doing lots of habitat management work in our parks and open spaces to help hedgehogs and have created lots of areas of long grass to provide the diverse range of invertebrates that hedgehogs require to eat. We also pile up cut grass under hedges to provide areas for hedgehogs to nest and breed in and build lots of hedgehog houses at events we run in our parks. Home owners can also help by making their gardens accessible to hedgehogs by creating a hole the size of a CD case in the bottom of their fences.”

To promote hedgehog conservation in Ipswich during Awareness Week, Ali is also asking residents, schools, communities and businesses to send photographs of their hedgehog friendly highways to enter a prize draw for a wildlife hamper. To receive a Hedgehog Highway plaque and to be in with a chance of winning the hamper, photos should be sent to hedgehogs@suffolkwildlifetrust.org alongside the post code of the highway and a postal address. Each Ipswich land owner can receive a free Hedgehog Street Hedgehog Highway plaque (until we run out!) and will also be included in the prize draw. The hamper includes butterfly mix wildflower seeds created and donated by Seedball (https://www.seedball.co.uk/), a woven igloo hedgehog house and bag of tasty hedgehog food donated by Ipswich Homebase, a set of Hedgehog Street Hedgehog Highway plaques and a beautiful home-made hedgehog canvas bag made by one of our Ipswich Hedgehog Champions.

Ali said: "What we're doing during Hedgehog Awareness Week represents a culmination of all we've achieved so far for hedgehogs in Ipswich. I've had such a warm welcome and the town has so much potential for wildlife, something residents should be really proud of. Already I've met so many knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. I'm really excited about everything we'll be able to achieve over the coming months."

In 2014 a Trust survey asked Suffolk residents to log hedgehog sightings. In just a few months 12,000 hedgehogs were recorded in the county, with about 2,500 of those in and around Ipswich. The Trust believed the rich network of green habitat throughout the town had created a stronghold for the species, which is in sharp decline. With funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) it was able to recruit a hedgehog officer and begin working in the town. It hopes methods used in Ipswich will help other areas of the county and indeed the country turn around the fortunes of hedgehogs.

Tagged with: Hedgehog