University of York: University awarded ‘gold status’ for work to protect hedgehogs on campus

The University of York has been recognised for its hedgehog friendly campus with a prestigious Gold award.

The Gold Hedgehog Friendly award, from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), is the culmination of three years’ work which has seen staff and students create hedgehog friendly habitat, install feeding stations and assist with surveying and rescuing injured animals.

Awareness

Other initiatives carried out by the University to achieve the accolade included:

Raising awareness of what steps people can take to help hedgehogs, including hosting a public hedgehog awareness day on campus
setting up trail cams on campus as part of the survey process
the creation of a hedgehog friendly staff and student group to set out specific ecological measures
Regular litter pick ups on campus
Installation of hedgehog shelters around campus, which estates staff monitored and kept stocked with food
The University is one of 13 universities across the UK to achieve Gold status in 2022.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society estimate that hedgehog numbers have declined by nearly 50% since the turn of the century, with hedgehogs now being classified as vulnerable to extinction.

Conservation

The BHPS campaigns to raise awareness around hedgehog conservation and welfare issues and runs a specific hedgehog friendly campus scheme.

Gordon Eastham, Grounds and Ecology Manager at the University, said staff and students had worked hard to achieve the gold status, in particular colleagues Karen Stilgoe, Angie Hudson, Sean Richards and Chris Sockett.

He said: “I was fortunate enough to grow up in the countryside and as a youngster remember seeing hedgehogs quite regularly.

“That was quite a long time ago of course, but imagine my surprise and dismay when one of the students in the Hedgehog Group recently said to me, they had never seen a live hedgehog.

“In many ways, this speaks volumes as to why we are so engaged with the ethos of the campaign and why it is so important that we do everything we can to make the campus not just hedgehog friendly, but also as biodiverse as we possibly can by creating and protecting suitable habitat.”

Community

Professor Nia Bryant, who initiated the project on campus and is based at the Department of Biology said: “This has been a very rewarding project, working with different groups across the University has shown how we can work together to make a big difference to the plight of this much-loved species – I’ve had great feedback from the wider community about our work too.”

Jo Wilkinson, from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society said: “The university has shown huge dedication and passion for helping hedgehogs and other wildlife through the Hedgehog Friendly Campus programme, which is funded and accredited by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

“We want to take this moment to thank all of the volunteers at the University who have taken part over the last three years. With hedgehogs now vulnerable to extinction in Britain, your help is more important than ever.”

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