Icon of the environment
THE HUMBLE hedgehog has been chosen as the icon to represent the English environment - just as it is under threat as never before.
The little mammal will appear on thousands of brochures, advertisements and other government publications after heading a poll organised by the Environment Agency to ask people what is the country's most popular mammal.
But the vote came after the People's Trust for Endangered Species issued the results of a research project which revealed that in some areas, hedgehog numbers have halved in recent years, with millions being killed by road traffic, slug pellets and garden machines such as strimmers.
The poll result has delighted members of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society but Chief Executive Fay Vass warned: "It is great news that the much loved, popular hedgehog has also been recognised as an icon of the environment. We hope people will not take this favourite of British mammals for granted and will take steps to try to help hedgehogs in their gardens."
In response to the slump in numbers, the society has linked up with the endangered species trust to launch HogWatch, a project build a picture of hedgehog numbers across the UK.
People are asked to take part by completing a form online at www.hogwatch.org.uk or by calling BHPS on 01584 890 801 for a paper version. A spokesperson said "The more people that take part in HogWatch the better - but hurry, the survey ends this month."
- For information on how you can help the iconic hedgehog log on to www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk or write to BHPS, Hedgehog House, Dhustone, Ludlow, SY8 3PL.