Wildlife team are ‘going for gold’ for Waterside hedgehogs

A student team are gearing up for a shot at the top spot in recognition of how the University of Northampton (UON) is the best home for its thorniest residents.

The Hedgehog Squad is led by Computing student Freya Smith and develop ecological initiatives around the Waterside campus estate to ensure hedgehogs can thrive here.

Hedgehogs are often referred to as the gardener’s friend for eating pests such as snails, mice and slugs but are also one of the UK’s rarest mammals. Estimates suggest a sharp decline in their numbers, with a three-quarter reduction in numbers from 20 years ago.

The Squad’s dedication meant the University received a silver award for being a ‘hedgehog friendly campus’ from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society last year. This was in recognition of measures that include installing ‘hedgehog highways’ and information plaques about the spiky critters.

So confident were the team about these introductions, last year the University welcomed two hedgehogs in a rehoming exercise from a local rescue centre. Phantom and Warlock have settled in well and both are still on campus.

Freya and the Squad are now applying for UON to receive gold status as a hedgehog friendly campus. As part of this, they have been raising awareness about how hedgehog friendly Waterside and joined the University’s Environment and Sustainability Team last week for an information event that coincided with Clean Air Day.

This included a sale of air-purifying plants that raised a ‘hedgehog happy’ total of more than £100 that will go to toward the Preservation Society.

Freya said: “Many thanks to everyone who turned up throughout Clean Air Day to support the Squad as we become ‘bold for gold’. For this, we aim to get a Biodiversity Action Plan approved and make it official and the University’s Grounds Team is also planning a training session about helping hedgehogs.”

The Squad’s Justgiving page is still open for donations and you can follow updates about them and our hedgehogs on their Facebook page.

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