Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, visited Otley’s local Hedgehog rescue last week. Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue is located on St Richards Road in Otley and takes in sick and injured Hedgehogs and treats and cares for them until they can be successfully released back into the wild.
The rescue is a voluntary organisation run by Diane and Andrew Cook, who over the last 3 years have seen a significant increase in the number of Hedgehogs coming into the rescue each year. In their first year they had 150 hedgehogs, in their second year that increased to over 200 and this year they have so far cared for over 250.
Due to the increased demand, Diane has given up her full-time teaching job to enable the rescue to continue. With such large numbers currently in the rescue, many of whom are this years young the daily feeding schedule starts at 6am and finishes at 1am.
Not only do the rescue care and rehabilitate the animals, but they also go into schools and local groups, such as Scout and Guide groups to provide education on Hedgehogs and the ways in which we can help them in the wild. Hedgehogs are currently on the UK Wildlife Red list categorised as vulnerable; it is believed that they have suffered a 40% decline over recent years.
Alex was keen to learn from Diane what the biggest threat to Hedgehogs currently were. The two biggest threats are Humans and Climate change. Over they years their natural habitat has seen a sharp decline because of more land being developed, the switch by many people from grass to artificial grass and generally people having less plants in their gardens, high fences and driveways, grass verges being tarmacked etc. The biggest cause of injury seen by the rescue is strimming injuries.
Climate change is also impacting on the hedgehogs, as our seasons warm up it now means that Hedgehogs breed twice a year as opposed to one, but unfortunately due to the factors above means there is not enough food in the wild to sustain the increased population so many sadly die from malnutrition and thirst.
Alex said “It was upsetting, but not surprising to hear those two other local hedgehogs’ charities have had to close, due to rising costs and the current cost of living crisis, this in turn is adding extra pressure on Prickly Pigs, demand wise”
“Rescues such as Prickly Pigs have seen costs risings cost rising and Diane was telling me it costs on average £70 per Hedgehog they rescue, in medication, heating, which is currently costing them £600 per month (a figure that threatens the existence of the rescue), food, gloves etc. The rescue is looking at becoming a charity which will enable them access further funding.”
The rescue is currently working out of an old garage, but they are in desperate need of a new building, and they are looking at it costing around £10,000.
Alex added “The rescue is constantly fundraising to be able to keep it operating and there are many ways in which people can help, and in these difficult times, no donation is too small. They currently need donations of Dog and Cat meat and Cat and Kitten biscuits; these can be dropped off at either Otley Lions or at the rescue itself at 49 St Richards Road. “
“They also have a shop on their website (https://www.pricklypigs.co.uk/) where they sell many items including their new calendar for 2023 and Christmas cards both featuring Hedgehogs”
“Donations can also be made via their Amazon Wishlist and also via a PayPal link on their website or via direct debit”
As Shadow Minister for domestic environment and nature recovery, added “The catastrophic decline of nature, habitats and wildlife continues, and over the last 12 years the Government have failed to address this issue, I am really pleased to be part of the Shadow DEFRA team as Labour commit to investing £28 billion a year for eight years into tackling the effects of Climate change when in power, which would quadruple the government’s current capital investment.”