Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, today launched a rallying call for people to protect hedgehogs.
In the 1950’s it was estimated there were 36.5million hedgehogs in Britain. It seems likely that there are now fewer than a million hedgehogs left.
Hedgehogs play a positive role in our gardens by feeding on slugs and snails and are one of our priority species.
The Minister has teamed up with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB) to back the Eco-Schools hedgehog campaign here.
Speaking at at Ballycraigy Primary School, Antrim which has its own “Hedgehog House” Mark H Durkan said: “36.5million hedgehogs in the 1950s with fewer than one million now. The statistics speak for themselves. We need to wake up to this before they disappear. That is why I am very much backing this schools campaign for people to protect them. Hedgehogs are very much a gardener’s friend. Their diet includes many garden pests including slugs, snails and mice. Leaving food out for them at night may attract one into your garden.
“As well as supplementary feeding, you can literally give hedgehogs a home in your green space by providing suitable habitat. They like thick dense undergrowth and a variety of lengths of grass which is a great excuse for a ‘wild’ area in your garden. Alternatively you can easily build a ‘hedgehog hotel’. A simple wooden box design with entrance holes and a watertight lid makes the perfect home for them.”
Minister Durkan visited two schools, Ballycraigy Primary in Antrim and Elmgrove in East Belfast to see at first hand work being undertaken by pupils to help preserve the hedgehog.
The Minister continued: “Our young people care deeply about the environment, something that we can all learn from and encourage. I believe passionately that this work with schools is vital for the local environment and wider community.
“I commend both Ballycraigy Primary and Elmgrove Primary in their efforts to protect our hedgehog population. I’m always happy to tackle the prickly issues of the day and I believe it is important that we all make a contribution to protecting hedgehog numbers.
“Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful plays a key role in promoting simple measures that can make a big difference through our highly successful Eco-Schools programme, to protect the hedgehog.”