We launched the University of Bristol Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC) campaign on a cold November day in 2019 just in time to raise bonfire awareness. The newly formed campaign team worked hard to promote the campaign amongst our campus community and to engage with as many staff and students as possible. The Bronze initiatives were met and submitted by the 2019 deadline with an ease that we all took for granted. The campus was buzzing with hedgehog news, our diverse mix of university staff and students met regularly and all looked forward to 2020 and being awarded our entry-level Bronze status and developing the creative ideas we had for Silver.
2020 had so much promise and like many campuses, we celebrated our first award and launched ‘Waking up to Bronze’ in the early Spring. We started looking at ways to fundraise and the student group, Bristol University Conservation Group (BUCG) held a fabulous quiz night. Our team applied for Provost funding overseen by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Squires and were delighted when funding was approved to support our Silver campaign and ambitious plans to develop both public awareness and landscape improvements for our prickly friends.
Little did we know that our planned large scale event for Hedgehog Awareness Week in May, with scheduled talks, comedy, a quiz, drinks, and nibbles with VIP guests from the university, city council and local wildlife charities would be postponed due to the first lockdown for Covid-19. Like so many other postponed events we are still waiting to confirm when this can run.
Covid-19 has impacted on the campaign and our path is not as straightforward as it once was. We have not lost sight of the values and the changes we are trying to make to be more hedgehog friendly. Our landscape managers have been reviewing rodent control and consulting with the HFC for advice to recognise the sightings that have taken place since the campaign began and more appropriate traps used.
The landscape team are also currently surveying our grounds along with community outreach projects installing hedgehog houses and feeding stations on a shared garden site on campus, and the construction of more hedgehog houses ready for installation next year. Our Facebook group continues to shine a light on the campaign and the BUCG are running a baking competition this month. Grassroots events like this are popping up more and more as we all adapt to the current situation.
We may have had to gear down our approach in 2020 and the University of Bristol Silver Award may feel elusive, but our determination to do what we can, when we can to help hedgehogs hasn’t changed. Our coordinator Jo Wilkinson at HFC deserves a special mention, as without her guidance and support we would not have the knowledge we do now. We have shared and engaged the plight of hedgehogs on campus across our many divisions of staff, students and our local community and together we are all fighting to save hedgehogs in Bristol.