By Tiffany Chan
Durham University’s Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign was recently announced as the winner of the nationwide Big Hog-Friendly Litter Pick Challenge, which 26 teams attended.
The Durham 31-person team collected a total of 105 bags of litter, and will receive a hedgehog house and food as rewards.
The university’s Hedgehog Friendly Campaign told Palatinate that the Big Hog-Friendly Litter Pick was a group litter-picking challenge that ran from 20th September to 29th November. The campaign involved people from all parts of Durham, including “staff, students, and members of community”.
Participating groups had to take photos of the bags of litter they collected, which were then compiled and counted by the national Hedgehog Friendly Campus team. At 105 bags, the Durham campaign not only won the University round by over 20 bags, but also collected the most bags out of all the other categories. These results can be found on Hedgehog Friendly Campus’ Twitter and Facebook pages.
The prize for first place includes a hedgehog house from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and food for Durham’s campus hedgehogs. The team revealed that they would be identifying the best space for a hedgehog house over the break, the location to be unveiled next term.
Founder of the Durham Hedgehog Friendly Campaign, “Hedgehog Friendly Champion” Nikki Rutters, saw another prize from their participation: “One of the best things about getting involvement in a national competition like the Big Litter Pick is seeing what other Universities are doing, and with all the work going on; it’s the hedgehogs who are the real winners.”
The Durham University Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign was set up in March 2020. According to Rutters, its members come from staff and student volunteers, Greenspace DU, “and a growing community network” in addition to the executive and management teams.
To raise awareness for hedgehog preservation, the team has organized events such as bake-offs, hedgehog first aid training, fundraisers, and campus surveys. Rutters said that while the team faced challenges operating during the pandemic, “I have loved working with other the whole university community to support hedgehogs, and the work we’ve done with the local community in terms of training and activities.” Her favourite activity so far has been the bake-off in which bakers donated entries to the Hedgehog Preservation Society.
The campaign has had a leading role in increasing the Durham community’s knowledge of hedgehogs and their relation to the local environment. The team completed a full survey of the University campus using hedgehog tunnels this year, in which they discovered a “rich population” of hedgehogs, including “several nesting sites”.
Rutter said that “It’s important we continue this work due to the increasing decline of hedgehog numbers nationally.”
The 2018 State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report on hedgehog population trends in the UK – the only report to do so – stated that the past decade has witnessed the loss of over a half of rural hedgehogs and a third from towns and cities.
Students interested in joining Durham’s hedgehog preservation effort should contact Durham Hedgehog Friendly’s student volunteering team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upcoming events are posted on the campaign’s social media pages, such as the friendly hedgehog bake-off running until 31st December; entries should be submitted to email@example.com.
Image: Nikki Rutters via Durham University Hedgehog Friendly Campus Campaign