Hedgehog strimmer injury campaigners win over council contractors

An animal rescue centre has won over local authorities and ground-maintenance contractors to sign up to an initiative to safeguard hedgehogs during routine maintenance.

Willows Hedgehog Rescue launched its national campaign after witnessing horrifying injuries inflicted by strimmers and brush cutters used under shrubs and along verges.

Hundreds of hedgehogs are seriously injured or killed every year, but warning literature and posters  along with warning triangles fitted to line and brush cutters aims to remind parks staff of the danger.

The campaign, launched a year ago, aims to raise awareness and change practices among 100 local authorities and so far has won over 40. TV's Bill Oddie also supports the initiative.

"We are working with councils, contractors, manufacturers and housing trusts to safeguard hedgehogs from gardening injuries," said co-founder Jayne Lawrence, who is based in Bromsgrove.

"This month warning labels have gone out to be fitted to 800 professional line trimmers along with awareness materials to cover a number of regions."

Lawrence, who co-founded Willows with Charlie Walker, said the rescue centre received up to seven injured hedgehogs a week in spring when upkeep crews swung into action.

Coventry City councillor Rachel Lancaster said: "We’re lucky to have some wonderful parks and open spaces across the whole of the city that are home to a wide variety of animals.

"We make sure our parks teams are fully aware of the dangers our equipment poses to wild animals in our parks and we do everything in our power to make sure they are looked after."

Cotswold District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Stroud District Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council and West Oxfordshire District Council singed up.

So too have Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council, Manchester City Council, Leeds City Council, Lincoln City Council, several London councils and Sefton Council.

Contractors on board include the Landscape Group, Continental Landscapes, TCL Group, Balfour Beatty and, most recently, Ubico.

Landscape Group contractors for Staffordshire County Council parks and highways and Warwickshire County Council highways rolled out the strimmer campaign to both these counties.

Kit maker Stihl GB helped raise awareness via its social media platforms and through information sent to its 650-strong dealer network.

Makita UK did likewise through 40,000 newsletters and summer catalogue while last November Bosch DIY and Garden UK used social media to raise awareness.

Lawrence said: "Councils are large-scale users of strimming equipment and maintain large expanses of hedgerow and verges in and around our towns and cities.

"These areas provide important habitat for hedgehogs and while leaving areas wild is preferable for wildlife, where they do need to be cut operators need to be aware of the potential danger for wildlife if the area is not checked first."

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