BROMSGROVE’s Willows Hedgehog Rescue has joined forces with Midlands councils to raise awareness of the dangers that strimmers and brush cutters pose to the prickly creatures.
Many hundreds of hedgehogs are seriously injured or killed every year as gardens and grass verges are cut back.
Hoglets are also orphaned if sows are killed, injured or disturbed to the extent they abandon their young.
Willows have now convinced numerous councils, including Bromsgrove and Redditch, to help – by informing both staff so they are aware of the dangers to hedgehogs and by conveying the message to residents.
Warning literature and posters have been provided to the councils, along with wildlife aware warning triangles that will be fitted to all line and brush cutters in use.
Jayne Lawrence from Willows said: “Councils are large scale users of strimming equipment and maintain large expanses of hedgerow and verges in and around our towns and cities.
“These areas provide important habitat for hedgehogs and while leaving areas wild is preferable for wildlife where they do need to be cut operators need to be aware of the potential danger for wildlife if the area is not checked first.”
Charlie Walker, co-founder from Willows, added: “Our aim is to make all operators aware of the danger that strimmers can pose to wildlife and especially hedgehogs.
“Danger that can be avoided by simply checking the area to be cut before working.”
He added Willows was extremely pleased with the positive reaction from so many local authorities.
Jayne said they were extremely grateful to be working with the councils to reduce avoidable injuries to hedgehogs and other wildlife.
Coun Rita Dent, who has released three hedgehogs in her own garden through the centre, said: “Bromsgrove has vast amounts of green space, most of which we as a council maintain so this is a good reminder for our teams – and for residents who are tidying up their own gardens – to watch out for these adorable little creatures.”
Earlier this year, Willows contacted as many line trimmer and brush cutter manufacturers as they could, asking them to include awareness information in manuals and wildlife warning triangles on their products.
Stihl GB, Bosch UK and Makita UK were among those who replied but, unfortunately, none said they felt able to be able to implement the simple changes.
All three did, however, join Willows in raising awareness through social media and Makita through newsletters and brochures.
Jayne called the move ‘a great step forward in raising awareness of the issue’ and the pair have vowed to continue their fight in a bid to get the warning triangles on every brush cutter and strimmer in the country.
Charlie said he hoped that would reduce the number of hedgehog casualties, adding the long-term goal was to get manufacturers to add the wildlife aware triangles when they made the equipment.
“Until then our aim is to offer to supply organisations that agree to help raise awareness our self-designed warning labels that they can retro fit to equipment.
“Rescue is very important to us however our ultimate aim is to try stop the accidents happening in the first place – awareness is key in working towards this.”
Visit www.willowshedgehogrescue.co.uk for more on the campaign and Willows Hedgehog Rescue.