The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, RSPCA and a few more wildlife organisations have released a new leaflet on ‘Guidance for Releasing Hedgehogs That Have Been Rehabilitated’.
Every year thousands of hedgehogs are released back into the wild from rehabilitation. The best part of the job is returning a hedgehog you have cared for back to its natural environment – but where should that release site be?
- Rescued hedgehogs should be released where they were found whenever possible.
- If this is not possible they should at least be released in the same locality – selecting a reasonably large area of habitat, similar to that from which the hedgehog originated, minimising risks to the released hedgehog and to local populations.
- Healthy hedgehogs should never be released into an enclosed area (however large the enclosure is)
- One patch of land is not suitable for release of multiple rehabilitated hedgehogs unless that is where they originated.
- Hedgehogs should not be transported long distances for release without exceptional circumstances making it necessary and only if a prior disease risk analysis has been undertaken.
- This advice refers to hedgehogs rescued from where they are native to the land and can legally be released.
- The hedgehogs’ welfare is paramount, and our feelings must be secondary to that. They are wild animals and should never be treated as pets or property.
- Best practice would be to conduct post-release monitoring when possible to inform release strategies.