UEA is officially hedgehog-friendly - but how?
PUBLISHED: 11:15 08 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:08 08 February 2020
The University of East Anglia (UEA) is responsible for thousands of students, but as well as looking after them it has gone the whole hog for some of the campus' smaller residents.
After hard work from a dedicated team of hedgehog-loving students and staff, the university has been recognised for its attempts to help the bristled beasts.
UEA has been given a bronze accreditation by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) in a new scheme to turn university campuses across the UK - which usually cover a large area - into spaces for the nocturnal animals to thrive.
It is estimated that the country's hedgehog population has halved since the year 2000, with fewer than a million estimated to be left because of things like roads, litter and the lack of a natural habitat, with access to food and water.
But UEA is among several institutions hoping to reverse this trend, and has been awarded a bronze accreditation by the BHPS after adapting grounds maintenance practices, hosting fundraising events and raising awareness.
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They have also trained their estates staff about what to do if they come across a sick or injured hog.
UEA landscape manager Tom Everett said: "Universities have lots of accreditation scheme and league tables, but this is something a little bit different.
"Our 360-acre campus supports many habitats of ecological conversation and unique biodiversity, some being just outside teaching spaces. That's not something every university can boast, so we should be very proud of this asset and, in return, help to preserve and raise awareness so everyone can enjoy them."
Proud they may be, but the university wants to do more to help hedgehogs and, with that in mind, it is working towards silver status.
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Staff and students hope to do this by introducing regular litter picks across the campus and creating hedgehog highways, which remove many of the barriers that the muricate mammals can come across while wandering through the night in search of food or a mate.
Student and president of the environmental sciences society Jess Spragg said: "I thought the scheme would be a great project for our student society to back, so I got in touch with the university and several others societies, and our numbers grew from there.
"Lots of us are doing degrees focused on the natural environment, so it's nice to get involved with protecting it here at UEA, and it's been lovely to see how many people are interested in the project.
"Everyone loves a hedgehog."