A NEW highways network has been adopted for parts of Oxfordshire – for hedgehogs. 

West Oxfordshire District Council is planning to roll out a new series of access routes for the animals.

David Harvey, deputy leader of the council and its cabinet member for climate change, announced the authority’s backing of a new initiative which will see householders asked to create thoroughfares, holes roughly the size of a CD, for the prickle-backed mammals. 

Hedgehog highways provide routes through bushes and fences to enable wildlife to travel more freely in response to a rapid drop in numbers and an increasing volume requiring human intervention. 

According to Hedgehog Street, a national campaign run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, says hedgehogs travel around a mile every night through parks and gardens trying to find food and a mate and that enclosed gardens get in the way of their plans.

Its interactive map shows hotbeds of “independent hedgehog holes” in places such as Witney and Eynsham with Cllr Harvey keen to see the council push potential rollout across the district. 

“One of the main reasons that hedgehogs are declining in the UK is because fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them to forage, hibernate and breed,” he said. 

Witney Gazette: Hedgehog: Scientific name: Erinaceus Europaeus)

“On average, a hedgehog’s home range is around 10 to 20 hectares in size and they roam an average of two kilometres in a single night. 

“We have carried out a mapping exercise and in an initial run we are going to ask householders to cut a hole in a hedge or fence so that hedgehogs can get across gardens and out the other side.”

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