Hedgehogs on Campus generates huge response

Over the summer months, Michelle Hood (senior lecturer in diagnostic imaging) has been busy coordinating the University’s Hedgehogs on Campus campaign. With autumn, and the return of staff and students to campus, fast approaching, we caught up with Michelle to learn more about the campaign’s recent achievements, and also it’s upcoming plans.

Covid-19 has made it a surreal summer for lots of us. How has the pandemic impacted your Hedgehogs on Campus campaign?

Despite the pandemic, we pushed ahead and circulated information about the campaign through the university’s local comms channels. The response we received was fantastic. Lots of staff ( and even a few students) emailed to say they were interested in getting involved. There were also some lovely responses from colleagues around how they first became interested in hedgehog welfare, including one lady who told us how she’d asked a bus driver to stop the bus she was travelling on so that she could retrieve a poorly hedgehog from the side of the road! With the pandemic limiting our access to campus, we’ve still been encouraging our staff and students to look after the hedgehogs in their own gardens.

We’ve also recently held two meetings to make further plans for the campaign. We’re deeply committed to ensuring SHU Hedgehogs on Campus is a success. Presently, we’re sharing out the tasks we need to achieve to attain accreditation . . . and also having some fun in the process.

One of the main challenges we’ve faced was getting the estates team involved with the campaign, but luckily a new member to the estates team had recently joined our group and was passionate about creating and changing the green spaces in and around the campus, not only to attract more wildlife but to make these areas more appealing to students and staff who can use them to relax or just take time out from their schedules.

A danger to hedgehogs lies in the use of strimmers in the garden and in our parks and green areas. James Stevens (estates team) took on this challenge and ordered stickers to be put on all the strimmers used on campus to remind staff to check for hedgehogs before strimming.

You’ve also recently created a Hedgehogs on Campus Facebook page?

We created the page so that we can upload information for those wanting to look after their local community of hedgehogs. The page includes tips on what to do if you have hedgehogs in your garden:

•    Provide water in shallow dishes when it’s hot
•    Put cat food out for them to eat
•    Make sure hedgehogs have access/exit points around the gardens so they can roam freely

We also want to find out if and where we have hedgehogs on campus. To do this we have borrowed some hedgehog traps (not traps really), which are tunnels with ink pads at one end and paper inside. We’ll then be able to see if any small paw prints appear inside!

And what’s the next step for the Hedgehogs on Campus campaign?

We’re planning to host a launch event for the campaign and to get more students involved. We’re hoping Induction Week will include:

•    A webinar presented by the Hedgehogs on Campus management team
•    A Create a Hedgehog craft activity – with prizes to be won!
•    The launch of a new Hedgehogs on Campus blog

One of our members is also willing to run an info session on what plants to put in your garden to attract hedgehogs and other wildlife. Additionally, we’ll continue to promote hedgehog welfare on campus. There’ll be posters about how to spot hedgehogs and how to report when you have seen one.

Throughout the autumn, we’ll be updating our Facebook page with information of how to support hedgehogs as they go into hibernation. There’ll also be advice on how to keep hedgehogs safe on bonfire night. Contact numbers will be available for colleagues spotting a hedgehog out in the daytime, especially during winter (the hedgehog is most likely poorly and in need of help).

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