The sight of a hedgehog shuffling its way across a garden was always charming - but unremarkable nonetheless.
But now it’s a rare event, with numbers of the creatures plummeting by around 30 per cent across the country.
Studies carried out ahead of a new campaign launched by the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust indicate that the city’s hedgehogs are following national declines - there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK.
So far nearly 10 per cent of the volunteers in Sheffield have noted a recent disappearance of the species from their area.
Residents are being asked by the trust to send in sightings, as well as donate funds, to help learn about the local hedgehog population. A group of ‘citizen scientists’ will also be recruited to help record and monitor the animals using ‘footprint tunnels’.
Hedgehogs are under threat from development and habitat loss caused by the reduction of hedgerows, more intensified farming and the fragmentation of gardens, such as putting up fences.
The campaign is to be launched at a talk next Thursday at Sheffield Hallam University by wildlife expert Hugh Warwick, an ecologist and writer.
Hugh said: “Just making a small difference to the way we manage our gardens can make a huge difference to the chances of hauling hedgehogs back from the brink.
“Just a small hole, the size of a CD case in the fence or wall you share with your neighbour is enough.
“Then on to their other neighbour, and all the way along the street.”
As well as Hugh’s talk, the trust will be kicking off its appeal with a special themed Hedgehog Week during October half term.
The charity is also giving people the opportunity to buy their own hedgehog box, made from Peak District timber, to give hedgehogs a safe place for hibernation to help boost their numbers.
Cathy Slater, head of development at the trust, said: “The surveys that have been carried out have found that fewer people see hedgehogs in the Sheffield area compared with years ago when hedgehog sightings were common.
“We therefore want to raise funds to take practical steps to help hedgehogs to thrive and to help protect them.”
She added: “There is a lot of work to be done and we need the community to come together to help save this wonderful animal.”
n Visit www.wildsheffield.com/hedgehog-week for more information.