A NEW Brackley group is encouraging people to monitor hedgehogs in their gardens this winter following a steep decline in the national population over recent years.
Members of Brackley HogWatch are using hedgehog feeding stations fitted with CCTV cameras to look out for any injured, underweight or poorly hedgehogs as the cold weather approaches.
Andrew Jackson, of Brackley HogWatch, said: “We are ‘Hedgehog Guardians’, and we watch over our flock.
“Many hedgehogs die every year from very minor injuries that become infected. We arrange medical treatment for these hedgehogs, and they soon make a full recovery and are released.
“We use hedgehog feeding stations fitted with tiny CCTV cameras to monitor the local hedgehogs. Each of us monitors the hedgehogs where we live. Some of us are trained ‘hedgehog carers’, registered with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
“In the Brackley area we are on call 24 hours a day to collect any poorly hedgies. Our aim is to encourage more people to monitor their local hedgehogs.
“Up to 80 hedgehogs could live in your area. It’s easy to spot one that can’t put weight on a leg for example, or a tiny one out in the winter when it shouldn’t be.”
Mr Jackson said many hedgehogs were injured every day by road traffic, mowers and strimmers. Once HogWatch members spot an injured animal, they keep it safe and contact the 24-hour hotline for collection.
Full CCTV feeding stations can be bought for £49, or feeding stations can be made and a camera kit purchased for £31, with just a spare TV required to watch and listen to nocturnal visitors.
Brackley HogWatch also has five CCTV feeding stations available for loan in the area.
Mr Jackson said: “Viewing is an incredible experience, 99 per cent of visitors are completely healthy, and fascinating to watch like this. But every now and then help is needed, and helping a hedgehog casualty is extremely rewarding.”
The typical garden is visited by six injured or unwell hedgehogs each year, said Mr Jackson.
All hedgehogs are released back into the same garden they were picked up from, and garden owners are kept informed about casualties’ progress.
For further information, contact Brackley HogWatch on the 24-hour hotline 07776 088808.