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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Cumbrian sanctuary returns 100 hedgehogs to wild

More than 100 hedgehogs are being returned to the wild across Cumbria after being nursed back to health by staff at a wildlife sanctuary.

Sarah Gibson photo
Sarah Gibson, from Knoxwood, with a hedgehog

Knoxwood Wildlife Rescue Trust in Thornaby Moor, near Wigton, has seen an influx of sick and injured hedgehogs through its doors over the past year.

Around 100 hedgehogs, some on the brink of death, have been brought into the sanctuary from places as far away as Morecambe and Rochdale, since winter to be cared for.

Founder George Scott says various factors are to blame for the hedgehogs’ problems, including the use of pesticides and slug pellets, as well as busy roads and recent bad weather.

He said: “Hedgehogs are brought to us from all over the country every few weeks and right through winter.

“Some have nasty wounds caused by garden strimmers, others have been injured by bonfires, and fruit nets and strawberry nets pose a serious risk.

“They often get stuck in drains as well, with people clearing them out after winter and not putting the lids back on.”

In a bad week the centre takes in between 10 and 12 poorly hedgehogs but Mr Scott believes there is cause for optimism.

“We aren’t too worried this spring as they are able to find food and farmers aren’t able to get into their fields with pesticides because of the bad weather, so this is a little bit of a boost,” he added.

“Hedgehogs have overcome the Ice Age so have dealt with bigger problems before but we do have serious issues to look at now.”

Following treatment and round-the-clock care about 90 per cent of the hedgehogs brought into the sanctuary can be released back into the wild.

It comes as people throughout Cumbria are this week being urged to help combat the decline in numbers of hedgehogs nationwide during Hedgehog Awareness Week.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is calling on supporters to host fundraising events, display posters highlighting the dangers posed, and post leaflets letting others know how they can help.

Fay Vass, BHPS chief executive, said: “There is so much the gardener can do to help hedgehogs, and with hedgehog numbers in decline it is more important now than ever.”

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