In early January, a significant step forward in wildlife conservation and emergency response unfolded with the official introduction of the Volunteer Hedgehog First Response Unit (FRU). Spearheaded by student and hedgehog champion, Dylan A, this pioneering initiative, initially operating as a pilot for the next six months, aims to swiftly address reports of injured, sick, or stranded hedgehogs across Monmouth and Chepstow.
Dylan’s vision, supported and funded by Wye Valley National Landscape, has now become a reality. Dylan is well known in the area for his work to raise awareness of the dramatic decline in hedgehog numbers over recent years, and educate the community on how they can help following his discovery of hedgehogs in his garden during the lockdown in 2020. Dylan said:
“It is wonderful to see the Hedgehog First Response Unit launch. We have an amazing group of committed volunteers and I have no doubt that their work will make a huge difference to helping the hedgehog population in the area survive and thrive.”
The small team of volunteers have all received wild hedgehog first aid training and have been issued with rescue kits containing a hedgehog carrier, heat pad, gloves, and blankets thanks to funding from the Wye Valley National Landscape Sustainable Development Fund.
When a message has been left on the hotline, the on-duty volunteers will contact the finder of the hedgehog to gain more information. They will then liaise with a volunteer rescue centre or wildlife-friendly vet for any further advice, and help with transporting the hedgehog to the centre or vet. Lucinda James, Community Links Officer at the Wye Valley National Landscape said:
“We are delighted to be supporting this new initiative as part of our priority species project. We know that the faster a hedgehog receives treatment, the greater chance it has of surviving. It’s already very poorly by the time it’s outside in the day, so we hope the FRU will speed up the process of the hedgehog getting the right care as quickly as possible.”
Initially covering the Monmouth and Chepstow areas, the Hedgehog First Response Unit encourages the community to remain vigilant for hedgehogs in distress, such as those seen during daylight hours or those with visible injuries. The unit operates a 24/7 answering system at 01600 605125, and additional information can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MonmouthHedgehogFRU/