Students and wildlife enthusiasts have been working together in Hedgehog Awareness Week enjoying activities aimed at spreading awareness but also at making the University of Lincoln campus more hedgehog friendly.
Alexandra Foxley-Johnson, Communications Officer for the Estates Department of the Unviersity of Lincoln and founder of the Hedgehog Friendly team, said: “I started the [Hedgehog Friendly] team at the University of Lincoln in September 2019, after seeing the scheme promoted on social media. As hedgehogs have declined around 30% in urban areas, it seemed like a great scheme to promote on a primarily urban campus. I have always been passionate about all wildlife and remember seeing hedgehogs in my grandmas garden as a child.”
Across the week, the University’s Hedgehog Friendly team hosted a series of activities for the awareness week, which runs from May 2 to May 8. The celebrations began on Wednesday afternoon with a “Hogfriendly” gardening session at the Kitchen Garden on the university campus that illustrated wildlife friendly gardening practices and “Hogitat” rebuilding activities.
That same evening, a Twilight Wildlife Safari took place around the campus and the Fossdyke canal, with the hope of spotting hedgehogs and other local wildlife. Unfortunately, no hedgehogs were seen during the safari, but numerous other animals were spotted including cormorants, baby rabbits, magpies, a nesting swan, chaffinches, robins and other birds.
As a final event, the University launched a CLEAN (Clean Lincoln Everywhere and Now) Hub with a litter picking walk of 2 km, the average distance a hedgehog can cover in one night, in order to bring awareness to how much litter one hedgehog can come across.
British populations of hedgehogs have been significantly declining for some time. Studies carried out by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society showed that populations went from about 30 million in the 1950s to 1.5 million in the mid 90s, and numbers have continued declining since.
Today hedgehogs are classified as vulnerable across England, Scotland and Wales, and many organisations like the Wildlife Trust and the British Hedgehogs Preservation Society have been trying to involve people in the fight to save the little creatures.
Among the many activities and events, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society in 2019 launched the Hedgehog-Friendly Campus initiative, a national biodiversity programme for universities that aims at promoting hedgehog awareness through a series of hedgehog-friendly actions, including surveys, improving green spaces and communicating the issues.
During the Hedgehog Awareness Week celebrations, people were invited to a virtual meet and greet with the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste University Hedgehog Champions, Alex Foxley-Johnson and Kaylee Hempenstall, who explained what the Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative is and what the two Lincoln universities are doing to promote it and help increase hedgehog numbers across the city.
Alex Foxley-Johnson said: “We have worked with the Bishop Grosseteste University Hogfriendly team in the past and are planning to work with them on some joint events in the future. We believe that working together will help Lincoln to move forward as a hedgehog friendly city.”
The University of Lincoln joined the initiative in September 2019, and since then it has been promoting numerous activities and events that have helped achieve the Bronze Accreditation for the 2019/2020 academic year, and the Silver Accreditation in 2021.