About The British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Discover how the British Hedgehog Preservation Society started or why it’s needed.

European hedgehog in grass
Via Mick Talbot/Flickr 
The population of the European hedgehog has declined alarmingly in the United Kingdom since 2000.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society formed in 1982 with Major Adrian Coles as its founder. He told The Times in London that after rescuing a wild European hedgehog his young daughter spotted stranded in a cattle grid, he put ramps in his and other cattle grids around his village to allow stranded wildlife to escape. People then suggested he start a society, so the British Hedgehog Preservation Society was born. It now has thousands of supporters. Coles is now 85 and retired from the BHPS, but he still encourages people to help wild hedgehogs.

“A hedgehog is a very useful animal because it does no harm to anybody,” he told The Times. “It eats slugs and beetles in the garden. It’s good to have a hedgehog in your garden. It’s a nocturnal animal and it likes to travel. It can travel up to a mile or so.” 

The European hedgehog is a different species from the African hedgehog that is kept as a pet. 

Major Adrian Coles with hedgehog
Via British Hedgehog Preservation Society/Facebook  
BHPS founder Major Adrian Coles made an appearance at the Hedgehog Street exhibit at the 2014 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Despite efforts by the BHPS, it seems that the population of the wild European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) has dipped to its lowest known numbers in the United Kingdom. Worldwide the species population is OK, but the latest hedgehog population report from BHPS and People’s Trust For Endangered Species (PTES) paints a grim picture in the United Kingdom. After analyzing data collected since 2000, it notes that “rural populations have declined by at least a half and urban populations by up to a third.”

This decline is nothing to ignore. The Times chose BHPS as one of its charities to support during its Christmas appeal.

The BHPS provides information to educate people about how to help wild hedgehogs. This includes things like not littering (so many discarded items can cause injury to hedgehogs), making gardens safe for hedgehogs, checking all bonfires before lighting to be sure a hedgehog isn’t hiding out in a pile, being careful when using a weed-wacker (or strimmer) and more. One major project it promotes is forming Hedgehog Street by having people create hedgehog-friendly gardens and, most importantly, giving hedgehogs access to all gardens by cutting hedgehog-sized holes in fences to allow the animals to roam freely.

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