Derbyshire animal lover praises 'fantastic' newly set up Chesterfield hedgehog rescue centre for helping protect precious wildlife
A Derbyshire animal lover who is passionate about wildlife, has praised a new hedgehog rescue centre in Chesterfield for helping protect and look after injured hedgehogs.
Gemma Gilbert, 30, from near Matlock, called the work of Chesterfield Hedgehog Rescue and Rehabilitation, which was set up last year, ‘fantastic’ – after she discovered a fellow animal lover decided to dedicate a room in her house to house injured or abandoned hedgehogs.
Donna Hatton, who started the non-for-profit organisation from her Inkersall home, relies on donations and volunteers to help run the newly established rescue centre and regularly receives calls from residents who have found hedgehogs in distress.
The Chesterfield resident weighs the animals and checks them over for injuries, parasites or ticks and uses newspapers and blankets to create a temporary home in a five-tier rabbit hutch.
She also feeds the hedgehogs kitten biscuits until they are well enough to be released back into the wild, working with Staveley Vets, but in the future plans to move the centre into a shed in her garden to increase capacity.
"I just think it's great she's taken it upon herself to do something like that because I don't think a lot of people really think about hedgehogs", Gemma said.
"I'm really happy that someone else thinks like me, it is fantastic.”
The 30-year-old who works as a care worker, is concerned about an increase in the number of hedgehogs that are being injured while more people are gardening and doing home improvements in lockdown.
"People get rid of sheds that they don't want anymore but they don't realise hedgehogs live underneath and they make nests”, she added.
"People that are moving leaf and log piles don't realise hedgehogs could be asleep under there still and some are still waking up from hibernation.
"I've seen recently a lot of people getting rid of bushes, strimming and cutting the grass and lots of hedgehogs are getting hurt and even killed due to people not bothering looking through what they are doing first.”
Gemma is calling on residents to check areas before conducting garden work and encourages people to leave an area of their garden with wild flowers and longer grass to ensure animals still have an area to hibernate in.
The 30-year-old, who is concerned hedgehogs are close to extinction, commented: "I think if we don't act now and people aren't aware of it then my kids won't know what a hedgehog is, it's the same with polar bears and tigers.
"If you don't act on it then they are just going to disappear but I feel like hardly anyone is bothered.”
She discovered her passion for hedgehogs during lockdown and claims the numbers of hedgehogs in Britain has ‘dropped by a third since the millennium’.
Gemma is urging others to make sure they create a hole in the bottom of their fences and walls – commonly referred to as a Hedgehog Highway – so the animals can still freely move from garden to garden.
To donate towards the funding of Chesterfield Hedgehog Rescue and Rehabilitation, click here.