Christmas Hedgehog Deaths lead to Schools Netting Plea

Three hedgehogs became caught in netting in a school playing field over Christmas and two died as a result. The third was discovered and rescued successfully. As a result East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) is writing to all schools and colleges across East Sussex to stress the need for netting to be removed over school holidays.

Trevor Weeks WRAS founder said "6pm Christmas Day we were called out to Eastbourne after a lady had found a hedgehogs caught up in the netting from a cricket tunnel in a school playing field. Our first priority was to check for ligature wounds but luckily the netting appeared to be loosely wrapped round and not causing any ligature. The hedgehog was tightly curled up but netting could be easily taken off the hedgehog without any problems. There were no signs of any leg injuries or infection and the weather was fairly mild that evening so we luckily were able to release the hedgehogs in the field away from the netting."

Three days later WRAS received a call about a dead hedgehog found in the same netting. WRAS rescuers attended on site and decided to tie the netting up off the ground to prevent any further hedgehogs from becoming caught in the netting. To their horror the remains of a third hedgehog was found whilst lifting the netting.

"This was quite a shock for our rescuers and it was not a nice think to see." said Trevor "lifting the netting would help prevent any further hedgehogs from becoming caught up as well as save the netting from becoming damaged any further as a result of cutting any additional animals free."

As hedgehog numbers are thought to be on the decline it is important to help conserve these mammals where we can and unnecessary deaths. The Mammal Trust UK believe that hedgehog numbers are in decline by about 20% over 4 years. These needless deaths can easily be avoided by simply removing the netting when not in use.

"This also protects the netting from being damaged in gales and by vandals." said Trevor, "as a result of these three hedgehogs suffering WRAS will be writing to all schools across East Sussex asking for them to remove netting when not in use and especially to remove netting during school holidays when there is nobody about to help save animals which might get caught. There is no doubt in my mind that the two dead hedgehogs would have suffered a long and slow death in pain and distress."

East Sussex WRAS has decided not to embarrass the school responsible for this incident as they would rather they had the option to learn from their mistake and learn for the future. WRAS hopes they will remove the discarded netting in their grounds too which was seen and photographed by rescuers when called out to the hedgehogs.

"If you are a student at a school or college please suggest to your school or college that the netting is checked for animals which may have been caught in netting over the Christmas holiday. If you are a parent, teacher or even a governor of a school or college please go and check the netting yourself and push for any netting used on school grounds to be removed when not in use and most importantly removed during holidays" said Trevor.

These hedgehogs were caught in the netting of a cricket tunnel used for the practice of batting and bowling so it is not just football goal netting which can cause a problem. Back in the summer WRAS was called to help the RSPCA deal with a deer caught in football goal netting of a college in Tunbridge Wells. Foxes, badgers and occasionally birds can also be caught in netting.

"Please help stop this unnecessary suffering by pushing your local school to check its netting and remove it during school holidays and when not needed." said Trevor.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958 (private)

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