A street in a Nottinghamshire village has been crowned the winner of ‘Britain’s Biggest Hedgehog Street’ by wildlife charities The British Hedgehog Preservation Society(BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), who together run the nationwide campaign Hedgehog Street.
The winning street – Dale Road in Keyworth, south Nottinghamshire – has an impressive 42 ‘Hedgehog Highways’ that link over 30 gardens on Dale Road with each other, as well as with neighbouring streets and gardens.
These CD case size or 13cm square gaps in or under garden fences or walls allow hedgehogs to roam between neighbouring gardens in search of food, mates and nesting materials – a small action vital for the species’ long-term survival.
A team of residents led by Jennifer Manning-Ohren has been working to make Keyworth hedgehog friendly since July 2021.
As part of Jennifer’s local non-for-profit community group Wild Things Keyworth, to date Jennifer and her drilling team Keyworth residents Nick Ellerby and Gill Pegg, have provided ‘lifelines for hedgehogs’ by drilling a staggering 150 Hedgehog Highways in local fences and walls, making Keyworth a hedgehog haven.
Further efforts to help their spikey neighbours includes talks to local groups and clubs; creating ramps to allow hedgehogs to visit gardens on different levels; decorated Hedgehog Highways; tunnels that go under fencing; providing supplementary food and water; installing hedgehog houses and feeding stations; and setting up night-time cameras to watch all the action.
Upon hearing about the competition, Jennifer teamed up with Dale Road resident Rachel Cox, who encouraged her neighbours to connect their gardens, which has resulted in Dale Road’s crowning victory.
In celebration of their efforts, BHPS and PTES have presented Jennifer and the residents of Dale Road with a special commemorative Hedgehog Highway plaque, wildflower seed packs, extra Hedgehog Highway signs to encourage even more neighbours to join in, and other hedgehog-related goodies.
Jennifer Manning-Ohren, who set up ‘Wild Things Keyworth’ and masterminded Keyworth’s ‘Hedgehog Street’, said:
“Being crowned ‘Britain’s Biggest Hedgehog Street’ is really rewarding. Gill, Nick and I have been creating Highways around the village since July 2021, but hearing about this competition made us wonder if it were possible to get one whole street on board. Rachel has done some magnificent work to rally Dale Road. We’re delighted that our team effort has paid off.”
“Seeing hedgehogs using the Highways we’ve created for them is magical – some people in the village hadn’t seen hedgehogs for 30 odd years before ‘Wild Things Keyworth’ was set up.
“Helping our local hedgehogs has also encouraged people to speak with their neighbours more, creating a unique relationship here. It’s amazing how hedgehogs can bring people together, and we’d encourage any community to set up their own Hedgehog Street.”
Hedgehog Street, which was set up by BHPS and PTES in 2011, aims to encourage people across the UK to make small changes in their gardens or local green spaces to help hedgehogs – just as the residents of Keyworth are doing. And, although the two charities’ State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022 report showed that rural hedgehog populations have declined in some areas by up to a staggering 75%, the outlook for urban and suburban hedgehogs may finally be turning thanks to community efforts to help hedgehogs.
Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer, Hedgehog Street says: “Two of the main pressures hedgehogs face in urban areas is habitat fragmentation and lack of suitable habitat. Connecting gardens is the best way to combat this, as it means hedgehogs can access a range of different habitats.”
“Keyworth is a fantastic example of how a community can come together to help hedgehogs, and we are thrilled to see that their efforts are paying off with regular hedgehog sightings. Connecting 42 gardens is a huge accomplishment, so they are very worthy winners and we’re proud to crown them as ‘Britain’s Biggest Hedgehog Street’.”
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For top tips on how to help hedgehogs wherever you live, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org