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Silver jubilee for Prickles protectors

[Thursday 26 April 2007]
Silver jubilee for Prickles protectors

ONE of Britain's many unique and somewhat eccentric conservation bodies is celebrating its silver jubilee: the British Hedgehog Preservation Society was founded 25 years ago today.

Although many people might regard such an organisation as somewhat dotty - as are many such countryside bodies regarded in the UK - it now has almost 11,000 members and has won fierce battles against big business and even rival conservation bodies.

Its birth came after a chance observation by Major Adrian Coles in Knowsbury, Shropshire, who found a hedgehog trapped in a cattle grid facing death by starvation or dehydration because it could not climb the vertical sides.

The major persuaded Shropshire County Council to install escape ramps in all grids on their property, a practice which soon spread nationally after widespread publicity. As a result, the BHPS was created.

It has won battles again the burger giant Macdonald's, forcing it to change the packaging of one of its ice lolly cones which were trapping hedgehogs after being discarded by litter louts, and even took on Scottish Heritage and the Scottish RSPB, which were killing thousands of the mammals on Scottish islands because they were eating the eggs of ground-nesting birds.

As a result, the cull was stopped and the society organised for hedgehogs to be taken to the mainland and released.

Major Coles issued a birthday message which read: "The society has come a very long way since those early days. I have now retired from active engagement with its activities, but keep in close touch as the Board of Trustees have very kindly made me an honorary member. I wish the society well and may the BHPS and Erinaceus europaeus continue to flourish."

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