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Stay alert to wildlife as you rediscover the countryside

PUBLISHED: 11:38 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 14 May 2020

Garden owners are being encouraged to keep an eye on hedgehogs in a project called Hedgehogs After Dark. Picture: GETTY

Garden owners are being encouraged to keep an eye on hedgehogs in a project called Hedgehogs After Dark. Picture: GETTY

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As Suffolk ‘stayed home’ this spring, wildlife have reclaimed areas of woodland and river bank that would usually be popular visitor attractions - and now it is feared animals could be disturbed as people venture back out.

Wildlife has been flourishing in AONB areas across Suffolk during lockdown. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDWildlife has been flourishing in AONB areas across Suffolk during lockdown. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The RSPB is calling for people to stay alert for wildlife as they return to the countryside this week following the relaxation of lockdown rules to ensure the safety of local species.

Emma Marsh, director of England for the RSPB, said: “This year, nature hasn’t needed to adapt to human behaviour, as we stayed home, and some of our wildlife has reclaimed the places we’ve temporarily given up.

“As we head back out, we need to be alert and avoid disturbing nature as it gets on with producing the next generation.”

The conservation charity has come up with five steps to guide people back into nature safely.

The Suffolk public now have more opportunity to return to AONB sites such as Broom Covert. Picture: BRIDGET CHADWICKThe Suffolk public now have more opportunity to return to AONB sites such as Broom Covert. Picture: BRIDGET CHADWICK

• Being alert at all times - this is very important as many vulnerable species are good at hiding themselves away in plain sight – sticking to paths and bridle ways will also help to avoid disturbing any of these hidden habitats

• Stick to paths and bridleways – the simplest way to give nature space is to keep to the spaces we usually use most

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• Keeping your dog on a lead - controlling pets in open countryside minimises the risk of them bounding through a nest of chicks or fields of livestock

Wildlife has been flourishing in AONB areas across Suffolk during lockdown. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDWildlife has been flourishing in AONB areas across Suffolk during lockdown. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

• Keep away from breeding species - if you do come across a breeding species, which will be common given it is spring, back away because you might be close to young animals who are easily injured

• Report anti social behaviour - it is imperative to report bad behaviour such as fly tipping, uncontrolled fires or wildlife crime if you see it out when exercising

And as spring turns to summer, even those who continue to stay at home can do their bit for nature.

Suffolk garden owners are being asked to keep an eye out for hedgehogs as part of a new project Hedgehogs After Dark, which aims to find out more about the secret lives of the prickly mammals.

Grace Johnson, hedgehog officer for Hedgehog Street, said: “Lockdown is a great opportunity to watch, connect with and help our wildlife, so if you’re lucky enough to see a hedgehog in your garden, we’d love to hear about it and to find out what he or she is up to.”

Participants are being asked to record what they see in their garden on the Hedgehogs After Dark behaviour log and are encouraged to keep watch over the summer to report any new or repeat behaviours.

MORE: Hedgehog hospital patients get released back into the wild


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