The Suffolk Wildlife Trust was recently flooded with applications after posting a two-year position for Ipswich Hedgehog Officer, salaried at £24,000 annually. This role comes on the heels of Suffolk’s year-long “Going the Whole Hog” campaign, intended to reverse a decline in these shy, nocturnal creatures. The Heritage Lottery Fund and British Hedgehog Preservation Society provided funds to create the role.
The position drew international interest from countries as diverse as Russia, Taiwan, Poland, Spain, Germany, and Hungary, and a trust spokeswoman said they were “overwhelmed” by the global attention. “We thought we would get a good response, but we were overwhelmed by the numbers who responded and the international reach. Applications have closed now and we’re really excited to go through them, and to start the interview process next week. The person we’re looking for will have an inspirational, and quite unique mix of skills, which will make the face of hedgehog conservation in Ipswich.”
The role was created after a Suffolk Wildlife Trust survey revealed hundreds of Ipswich locals had seen hedgehogs, both dead and alive, in their area. Conservationists feel that having an officer dedicated entirely to preserving these tiny, spiny mammals will maintain the town’s standing as a hedgehog hotspot. “The response to our hedgehog survey was fantastic,” said Simone Bullion from the trust. “What was particularly evident is that our urban areas are very important. Hedgehogs still look to be hanging on in our towns, so it is imperative we do all we can to keep them there and make conditions even more hedgehog friendly.”
In the past two years, nearly 12,000 hedgehogs have been spotted in the county, with about 2,500 in Ipswich alone. The trust notes there is a “rich natural network” for hedgehogs across Ipswich, “including its beautiful parks as well as the cemetery, allotments and churches”. However, more measures must be taken to ensure that hedgehog numbers remain stable. Once hired, the new officer will raise community awareness of how individuals can make their yards and gardens into hedgehog havens. Simple actions such as leaving gaps in fences, preserving areas of garden “litter” like dead leaves, and putting out fresh water and food (pet food, minced meat, and boiled eggs are favorites) will encourage hedgehogs to feel at home. Even small efforts can have a big impact in helping these adorable creatures to thrive in urban spaces, allowing Ipswich to safeguard their well-loved ‘hogs for years to come.
Sources: “Ipswich hedgehog officer post gains worldwide interest.” BBC News. 16 July 2016. “Ipswich proves to be a hotspot for hedgehogs.” BBC News. 5 March 2016.
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