MORE than 50 sightings of hedgehogs have been reported in Dunbar, thanks to a yearlong scheme.

Sustaining Dunbar encouraged people to keep an eye out for the creatures and for signs that they had been in their gardens through the Pledegehog Project.

Jen Walker, Dunbar Pledgehog officer, said: “As the year came to an end, it was fantastic to look back and to count all the reports of hedgehogs.

“There have been over 50 sightings (in different places) of hedgehogs in 2023, which is more than double the sightings of any previous year.

“Hedgehogs have also been recorded regularly on camera in the grounds of Dunbar’s Lammermuir House Care Home and Dunbar Primary School Nursery’s ‘Beehive’ wildlife garden, where residents and nursery children have been thrilled to watch the footage.”

However, she stressed that hedgehogs were still at great risk and more could be done to protect them.

She added: “Although this is positive news, it’s important to say that this doesn’t mean that there are suddenly more hedgehogs in Dunbar.

“They can travel around a mile each night, so some of these sightings will most likely be the same animal.

“Hedgehogs still really need our help as they’re classed as ‘at risk of extinction’ in the UK.”

Those behind the project hope that local people will make a real difference to the Dunbar hedgehog population by making the town more hedgehog-friendly.

Steps include allowing safer routes to travel with ‘hedgehog highways’, providing more natural environments to find the bugs that they eat and water to drink, as well as creating places to shelter and nest.

Alex Davey, who lives in the town, was among those pleased to spot a hedgehog.

She said: “We were enchanted to view a hedgehog on the very first night that we used the camera and most nights thereafter.

“It was wonderful to watch him coming and going, and to learn his habits.

“One night we caught an amazing film of him catching and eating an enormous worm!

“The whole family has learned a lot about hedgehogs from the project and we now have a real incentive to keep our garden chemical-free and to make improvements to benefit wildlife.”

Simple steps can be taken to make a garden or outdoor space more hedgehog friendly.

Among the measures is providing a 13cm gap in and out of the garden to enable hedgehogs to get in and out or to travel between gardens, and piling up any twigs, branches, logs and leaves in a sheltered, undisturbed place which is in the shade all year round.

The Dunbar Pledgehog Project was run by Sustaining Dunbar throughout 2023 thanks to funding from the Dunbar and East Linton Area Partnership.

It hopes to find new funding this year to continue to engage with the community and to build new partnerships and initiatives to benefit hedgehog conservation.

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