ANIMAL lovers in Worcestershire have been urged to back a campaign to help hedgehogs – as the spiky mammal came out on top in a poll to find Britain’s national species.
Hedgehogs topped the list to be named Britain’s National Species after a poll by the BBC Wildlife Magazine, winning 42 per cent of the vote, beating off stiff competition from a range of animals, including badgers and otters.
Meanwhile, the result was welcomed by Willows Hedgehog Rescue, near Bromsgrove, which is run by Charlie Walker and Jayne Lawrence.
Mr Walker said it was great news because it was making people more aware of the creatures.
“It’s fantastic news that they have won,” he said.
“They are in such massive decline and a lot is from human pressure that we really need all the help we can get with them.
“They are such an iconic animal, with the likes of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in the Beatrix Potter books, but the biggest comment we get about them is that people haven’t seen them in years.”
And Mr Walker said he hoped the recognition would encourage more people to back the rescue centre’s petition calling for new housing developments to be forced to leave a small gap in fences to allow hedgehogs access to much-needed insects, for food, water and a place to nest.
“There are so many new builds going up at the moment and the problem is the gravel boards on fences around the gardens,” Mr Walker added.
“We are asking contractors to leave a four inch gap in one gravel board so animals can get in and out of gardens.”
He also said people can help by leaving one small patch of long grass in their garden or putting some logs in an area, as these provide great homes for hedgehogs, and by checking long grass areas before strimming or cutting to avoid the risk of injury or death.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which has a number of famous patrons including Ann Widdecombe, Chris Beardshaw and Twiggy, said they were delighted with the animal’s new status.
Chief executive, Fay Vass, said: “We are all thrilled that hedgehogs have won this vote and it could not have come at a better time – hedgehog numbers are in fairly sharp decline so they need all he help they can get.
“Their place in the nation’s affections is obvious from the result, if each and every one of us converts that affection into a positive action to help hedgehogs, their situation will be much improved.”
For more information on hedgehogs, visit britishhedgehogs.org.uk.