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You may have noticed a very sad line up of tiny gravestones near the entrance to Cookworthy Road in Kingsbridge as a group tries to highlight hedgehog safety.
Dan Stathers set up the Facebook group Friends of Kingsbridge Hedgehogs. He said: “We were talking about slow signs and found out about a village that had started placing ghost hedgehogs around to remind drivers to slow down and take extra care.
“One of our supporters highlighted Cookworthy Road as a real hedgehog road death hotspot and we decided to set up a little hog cemetery at the junction to remind drivers to be extra vigilant and to slow down.”
There are currently four tiny gravestones by the sign, one of each of the hedgehogs the group know have recently lost their lives in the immediate vicinity.
According to the RSPCA, hedgehog populations are “thought to be falling rapidly, particularly in rural areas, and they're now considered vulnerable to extinction in Great Britain”.
The RSPCA website states: “There are a variety of factors contributing to this decline, including destruction of their habitats, increasing road traffic, and the use of pesticides which makes it harder for them to find food. Garden hazards such as netting and ponds cause further casualties as hedgehogs can easily become trapped in them and starve, dehydrate or drown.”
Dan and the Friends of Kingsbridge Hedgehogs would like to get wildlife crossing signs as a more permanent reminder for people to protect our spiky friends.
Dan said: “We’d like to see Devon County Council make use of the new wildlife crossing signs that are available. The group is trying to monitor and encourage the town’s hedgehog population which appears to be quite healthy in certain pockets.
“The dramatic fall in numbers nationally is alarming, more than 300,000 are killed annually on our roads. We need to do all we can to help protect them.”
The clerk to Kingsbridge Town Council, Martin Johnson, explained that when he spoke to DCC on the residents' behalf, he was told that "the authority is not currently using this new sign and has no plans to introduce it". He said that the county council had "taken onboard our request but it appears that there may not be very many other communities pan-Devon which have made similar requests".
A spokesman for DCC said: “New road signs warning the public of small mammals, such as hedgehogs, can only be authorised by the Department of Transport.
“We would only consider making an application If there is sufficient evidence that a particular location is an accident and wildlife hotspot.
“Then if the DfT approves the application signs can be erected at safe locations, but only once funding becomes available.”
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