STUDENTS are supporting a hedgehog sanctuary battling a dramatic spike in deaths of the much-loved creatures.
Animal Care learners at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi are rehabilitating four European hedgehogs and hope to release them back into the wild in the new year.
In partnership with Hedgehog Help Prestatyn (HHP), they have been caring for them in a converted room which can hold eight of the popular prickly animals at any one time, providing warmth, shelter and regular meals.
And their efforts are much needed; this time last year, HHP had more than 80 hedgehogs to look after. At present, they only have 20.
Founder Tracy Pierce said numbers are dwindling nationally as hedgerows and field margins are lost to intensive farming and more people tidy and renovate their gardens – notably during the first Coronavirus lockdown.
“The issue has got far worse, so I would like to thank the students and lecturers at Coleg Cambria for their support,” said Tracy.
“Wild hedgehogs are in sharp decline for a number of reasons but primarily the fact there are less and less places for them to shelter, less insects and bugs for them to feed on and they are unable to move around as they could before.
“New roads and fencing, more chemicals and even the sharp changes in weather we are experiencing all play a part, which is devastating.
“They hide illness and as a result their health can deteriorate rapidly, so prompt treatment is vital to their chance of survival.
“We are doing all we can to care for them and with Cambria’s support are trying to aid hedgehogs that were under-nourished or injured so they can be released back to full health and into the wild.”
Tracy gave cohorts from the Level 2 Animal Nurse Assistants and Level 3 Animal Management qualifications a virtual tour of the sanctuary and an interactive presentation on the work that has taken place there since opening in 2016.
Laura Owen, Animal Management lecturer at Llysfasi, says they will continue to monitor, feed and assess the animals over the winter.
“This is an amazing opportunity for our learners to get hands-on practical experience in caring for endangered British wildlife,” she said.
“Sadly, we couldn’t visit Hedgehog Help Prestatyn but via Zoom were able to witness the incredible work they do.
“We will continue to look after these lovely creatures and play our part in trying to increase their chances of survival, especially at this time of year, when temperatures drop considerably.”
More than 95% of the UK hedgehog population has been lost in less than 70 years, which means hedgehogs are now endangered.
Their numbers in the wild are believed to have been around 30 million in 1950, dropping to 500,000 in 2018.
For more information, or if you find a hedgehog in need of care and attention, call Hedgehog Help Prestatyn on 07591576765 or visit www.hedgehoghelpprestatyn.org.uk