Sandringham reviews electric fencing deemed dangerous to hedgehogs

Sandringham Estate. Picture: Neil Didsbury

An electric fence at Sandringham was taken down after concerns were raised over the danger it could post to hedgehogs - Credit: Archant

The Sandringham Estate is to consider its use of electric fencing after fears were raised that it could be dangerous to hedgehogs. 

A temporary fence had been put up at the Queen's Norfolk retreat to protect plants from being eaten by wildlife such as rabbits and deer.

The University of East Anglia is hoping to create a better environment for hedgehogs on its campus.

An electric fence at Sandringham was taken down after concerns were raised over the danger it could post to hedgehogs - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

But, after a member of the public contacted the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), the organisation requested its removal. 

In response the estate was "very positive", according to the BHPS, and took down the fencing prior to welcoming back visitors on April 12.

Royal officials emphasised, however, that the measure had been temporary and the fence was always due to be removed to coincide with the lockdown easing. 

Fay Vass, chief executive of the BHPS, said: "A member of the public contacted us to let us know that this fencing had been installed and could potentially be problematic for hedgehogs.

Fay Vass, chief executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Fay Vass, chief executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society - Credit: BHPS


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"We contacted Sandringham to find out more and asked if it could be removed. 

"They were very positive and concerned it could harm hedgehogs. It was removed not long after and they will have better consideration of fencing in future."

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Electric fencing can be perilous to hedgehogs, whose natural defence mechanism is to curl up into a ball. 

A shock can cause them to curl up around the fence, resulting in further shocks and death. 

Sandringham House. Pic: Archant

An electric fence at Sandringham was taken down after concerns were raised over the danger it could post to hedgehogs - Credit: Ian Burt

Numbers of the species have declined dramatically in recent years, including by about 50pc in rural areas.

Ms Vass added: "We get reports from time to time about people who have electric fences and find hedgehogs dead at the base.

"Hedgehogs don’t need much to thrive and survive. Just shelter, food and access to each other. 

"If a species is struggling in an environment that we have created, that is a warning for us to do something about it. 

A hedgehog at the RSPCA's East Winch Wildlife Centre. Picture: Chris Bishop

An electric fence at Sandringham was taken down after concerns were raised over the danger it could post to hedgehogs - Credit: Archant

"Anything we can do - and dangers we can remove -  is so important because they need all the help they can get."

A Sandringham Estate spokesman added: "The temporary fencing was removed as planned ahead of the partial reopening of visitor facilities on April 12.

"The estate had a constructive conversation with the BHPS on any use of temporary fencing in the future."

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