Forfar’s chickens may still find it a bit of a struggle, but crossing the road has just been made a little easier for their prickly pals.
As part of an Angus contribution to hedgehog awareness week, street signs are being erected to put local drivers on alert for the little mammals.
The conservation effort is also being boosted by 60 ‘hedgehog highway’ signs for the town’s Turfbeg area, near Forfar Loch, which residents can post over hedgehog-sized gaps in fences so the animals can get through them for nocturnal walkabouts of as much as a mile each night in the search for food and a mate.
Tayside Biodoversity Partnership and Angus Alive’s countryside rangers are joining forces in the UK-wide initiative which has been running this week,
The Mind the Gap project has also been given the full support of Angus ‘hedgehog champion’, Forfar SNP councillor Lynne Devine, who said she would like to see local gardens become a safe environment for the species,
“It’s important to raise awareness about the diversity of wildlife on our doorstep and in our gardens and streets,” said Ms Devine.
“This project will see neighbours working together to help local wildlife and the more they can encourage hedgehogs to explore, the better chances we have of arresting the steep-decline in this species’ population numbers.”
Although still widespread, studies completed in recent years by bodies including the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) revealed a worrying downward trend in numbers.
Poorly lit rural roads, where traffic is also travelling faster are also thought to witness a higher proportion of the hedgehog deaths which contribute to an annual roadkill tally estimated at around 100,000.
Angus Alive’s ranger service has also been active in protecting the animals through their Going the Whole Hog project, providing schools with a hedgehog hibernation box, as well as delivering talks and information about looking after hedgehogs and their habitat.