Longleat’s Animal Park star Ben Fogle has issued a desperate plea to people who are considering having a bonfire this November.
In a bid to save the lives of countless hedgehogs, the TV personality is begging fire fans to check the piles of materials thoroughly prior to lighting them.
As 5 November approaches, and events back on after the coronavirus lockdown, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) predicts that prickly animals will perish in the flames.
“Please, please, please spare a few minutes to check for hedgehogs – you could literally save a life”, Ben Fogle exclaimed.
Adding: “Hedgehogs are in serious decline and this is one thing you can do to keep them safe.
The BHPS says it has come up with a three-step plan to help you can ensure you don’t inadvertently kill hedgehogs and other animals:
1) MOVE the materials to clear ground on the day they’re to be lit, then
2) CHECK the pile carefully just before striking that match, and finally
3) OFFER an escape route by only lighting from one side
A bonfire pile looks like a 5* hotel to a hedgehog seeking a safe and cosy winter home to hibernate in. They aren’t to know we plan to set light to it!”, BHPS chief executive Fay Vass said.
She continued: “Hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, which should be checked by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom. Never use a spade or fork as these can stab them.
“Using a torch will help and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed.
“If a hedgehog is found, take as much of the nest as you can with it and place in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of newspaper, old towelling or straw. Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers.
“Wear gardening gloves or use an old towel to handle them so as not to get human smells on them and to keep them calm as hedgehogs are easily stressed; it also protects your hands from their spikes!
“Put the box in a safe, quiet place such as a shed or garage well away from the festivities and offer the hedgehog some meaty cat or dog food and water.
“Once the embers are totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs near where it was found, with its original nesting materials.”