Hedgehogs were the focus of an important event at Hartpury promoting the welfare of one of Britain’s best-loved animals.
The Hedgehog Rehabilitation Symposium, sponsored by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, provided an opportunity for hedgehog carers from more than 35 different organisations to share knowledge and experience.
Representatives from wildlife hospitals the length and breadth of the country heard presentations on the status of Britain’s hedgehog population, the use of drugs including antibiotics and anthelmintics, and collaborative projects to understand the number of admissions to care.
Nigel Reeve, author of Hedgehogs and speaker at the event, noted that more than five per cent of the hedgehog population in Jersey may experience rehabilitation in any one year, highlighting the impact of care on the wild population.
Lucy Bearman-Brown, senior lecturer at Hartpury and lead organiser of the event, which was a partnership between the British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (BWRC) and University Centre Hartpury, said: “Hedgehog rehabilitation is largely funded by volunteers, giving up their time and money to care for sick and injured hedgehogs across the country.
“So to draw 90 delegates from so many organisations together was a fantastic opportunity to debate controversial issues, and explore ways we can work together to support best practice.”
Jayne Morgan, from Happy Hedgehog Rescue in Yateley, said “There were many good-quality lectures and opportunities to catch up with old friends, and to make new ones.
“It was wonderful to see such an array of hedgehog carers in one place.”
A particularly popular session was delivered by Alex Barlow, an independent veterinary pathologist, who demonstrated dissections of hedgehogs that had died in care.
Despite the carcasses being frozen for several months, Alex found live lungworm parasites, which provided a fascinating insight into parasitology and the cause of death.
Terri Amory, Chair of the BWRC, said “Wildlife rehabilitation is a product of our compassion towards animals and a recognition of the negative consequences of human interference in the natural world.
“But it is essential that our good intentions don’t make matters worse for individual animals and populations through action without careful consideration and sound scientific evidence – two things we aim to promote at every BWRC event. It was fantastic to see so many rehabilitators attending.”
Picture: Baby hedgehogs (credit: Secret World Wildlife Rescue)