With bonfire night fast approaching, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is urging people not to build bonfires until the day they are to be lit to save hedgehogs from suffering.
Fay Vass, chief executive of BHPS, said: “If material is stored on open ground in advance of having a bonfire, it’s crucial to dismantle it and move it to another spot just before lighting.
“Ensure it is moved to clear ground - never on top of a pile of leaves as there could be a hedgehog underneath, and not too close to pampas grass, which can ignite very easily and is another favourite spot for hedgehogs to hide under.”
If a bonfire is built in advance, BHPS recommends putting chicken wire one metre high all the way around the bottom, held in place with stakes.
The wire should slope outwards, making it difficult for hedgehogs to climb.
As hedgehogs hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, check by gently lifting the bonfire section with a pole or broom before lighting.
Use a torch and listen for a ‘hissing’ sound, the noise made by hedgehogs when disturbed.
For more advice, call BHPS on 01584 890801 or visit the website www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.