Council backs move to make district more hedgehog-friendly
Cannock Chase councillors have backed measures to make the district more hedgehog-friendly.
The beloved spiky mammals have suffered a massive decline in numbers in this country in recent years, facing challenges including loss and fragmentation of habitat, competition for food such as worms and insects from other species and risk of injury or death when crossing roads.
At this month’s full meeting members of Cannock Chase Council voted unanimously for measures to help hedgehogs. These include making council-maintained nature reserves and future developments as hedgehog-friendly as possible.
Councillor Philippa Haden, who brought forward the motion, at this month’s full council meeting, said: “With hedgehog numbers in decline, there is a great need to increase awareness. There has never been a better time to refocus on hedgehog conservation.
“Preferred habitats for hedgehogs include wooded edges, hedgerows and increasingly gardens. Bushes, twigs and leaves on the ground provide cover and nesting materials.
“Hedgehogs are listed as a species of principal importance in England under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and this helps to ensure that the survival of hedgehogs is a consideration within the planning process. The council currently encourages developers to use hedgehog-friendly fencing, and CP12 of the Local Plan focuses on biodiversity and geodiversity.
“I move that hedgehog-friendly fencing be incorporated into the landscape designs of all future council-managed developments and that steps be taken within all council-maintained nature reserves to ensure they are as hedgehog-friendly as possible; this could include incorporating hedgehog highways and considering hedgehog houses in suitable locations.
“In addition to this, I move that the council participates in Hedgehog Awareness Week, which falls in May of each year, and helps to raise awareness of the importance of hedgehogs and the threats that they face. The council could support Hedgehog Awareness Week through online campaigns, social media awareness and potential initiatives through the Cannock Chase Can app.”
Councillor Mandi Boyer spoke of the decline in hedgehog numbers in the UK since the turn of the millennium. According to the latest State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report, numbers have fallen by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas.
She said: “One of the main reasons hedgehogs are struggling is because our garden fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them. One of the most important things we can do to help hedgehogs is to ensure they can pass freely through gardens.
“Gardens provide hedgehogs with food and they need to be linked so they have sufficient areas to roam. One of my biggest bugbears is artificial turf.”