Harpenden hedgehog sanctuary urge bonfire makers to follow animal safety advice
PUBLISHED: 14:03 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:03 31 October 2018
A Harpenden hedgehog sanctuary has urged bonfire makers to follow animal safety advice during their Guy Fawkes celebrations.
Martin Maylin, who is the founder of a family-run charity in Batford called Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary, has reiterated national advice coming up to November 5.
He stressed the importance of thoroughly checking kindling piles before they are lit, with many hedgehogs unwittingly nesting in the foliage before being burnt alive.
If tinder has been left for more than a day, it is best practice to shift the whole pile elsewhere, Martin says, but he believes people are unlikely to follow that recommendation.
“Failing that, just having a torch and listening under the bonfire to see if there is anything active and alive under there is good. You can poke it to see if anything moves.
“Hedgehogs love bonfires because it is a good place to hibernate at this time of year. You never really know because they curl up into a ball rather than run off.
“That’s a problem on the road as well.”
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society echoes this advice, asking everyone to build bonfires not too long before they are lit.
Numbers of the spiky creatures have been in decline since the 1950s, Martin said, and are now listed as an endangered species.
He established Hornbeam Wood in 2015, buying 10 acres of land on the site of a former animal sanctuary called The Grahame Dangerfield Wildlife Trust.
Martin remembers helping Grahame run his charity when the now 42-year-old was about six years old, nurturing a special love of hedgehogs at that young age.
He said: “I bought the 10 acres and carried it on, the same sort of thing, except with just hedgehogs.
“I have always liked hedgehogs and I always wanted to look after them so I thought, ‘Why not?’ They are endangered, they need as much help as they can get.”
Although Hornbeam Wood release many hedgehogs back into the wild, they also currently house six permanent residents who would not survive on the outside.
These include three-leged Skelator, blind Jack, and Kelly, who has psychological issues.
Martin thanked Nine Lives Vets in Redbourn, which work with Hornbeam Wood in their mission.
To find out more about the charity, visit www.hornbeamwood.org.uk