Villagers erect headstones on verge for hedgehogs

Angry villagers erect memorial for hedgehogs and call police after animals were ‘massacred’ by council workers who mowed overgrown grass verge

  • Private contractor cut back grass using a tractor in Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset
  • But he accidentally killed four hedgehogs – and further hoglets – during his work
  • Prompted outrage from villagers who erected makeshift memorial to creatures
  • They stuck cutout hedgehogs with black x’s in place of eyes to wooden stakes 

Villagers have erected headstones for hedgehogs and called the police claiming the animals were ‘massacred’ by workers mowing overgrown grass on a verge.

A private contractor was hired to cut back the grass on a verge using a tractor with a flail attachment in Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset.

He accidentally killed four hedgehogs – and further hoglets – during his work, prompting outrage from villagers who erected a makeshift memorial to the dead creatures.

They stuck cutout hedgehogs with black x’s in the place of eyes to wooden stakes and stuck them in the earth.

Local environmental campaigners condemned the contractor’s mistake – and reported him to the police.

Hedgehogs are a vulnerable species and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Villagers have erected headstones for hedgehogs and called police claiming the animals were ‘massacred’ by workers mowing overgrown grass on a verge in Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset. Pictured: Locals Hazel Hedley and Susy Varndell

Property developers AJC Group, who hired a contractor to clear the verge ahead of development work, has since apologised for the ‘unfortunately irreversible’ incident.

The aftermath was discovered by Hazel Hedley in the hedgehog-friendly village of Hazelbury Bryan – which has its own rescue team for the mammals. 

Susy Varndell, hedgehog leader of the Dorset Mammal Group, visited the site afterwards.

A private contractor was hired to cut back the grass on a verge using a tractor with a flail attachment. He accidentally killed four hedgehogs – and further hoglets – during his work, prompting outrage from villagers who erected a makeshift memorial to the dead creatures (pictured) 

She said: ‘It was absolutely horrific and anything like this should not happen. 

‘It was ghastly with the remains of hedgehogs and hoglets – absolutely tragic.

‘The developers should have been aware that the animals were there – this is a hedgehog friendly village. We even have a rescue team here.

‘Clearly no checks were made before mowing commenced and as the verge in question is not on a roadside causing any danger to the public, it begs the question as to why it was necessary to be mown at all.

Local environmental campaigners condemned the contractor’s mistake – and reported him to the police (the dead hedgehogs, pictured) 

‘We all need to take responsibility for our actions especially when we are driving a machine which can cause horrendous damage to either a wild animal, or indeed a human.’

Mrs Varndell and Mrs Hedley fear that other injured adult hedgehog casualties may have moved away and could have died somewhere else.

AJC Group construction director Ben Peddie was left ‘deeply upset’ by what happened and said several measures will be put in place to prevent future tragedies.

He said an ecologist will supervise the remaining demolitions, create hedgehog habitats in grassland areas, and educate workers about the local hedgehog population.

Mr Peddie said: ‘I have already spoken to one of the local residents regarding this incident and expressed our sincere apologies.

‘The countryside management contractor who carried out the works on our behalf also visited to review the incident and spoke with the same local resident.

Property developers AJC Group, who hired a contractor to clear the verge (pictured) ahead of development work, has since apologised for the ‘unfortunately irreversible’ incident

‘This incident is unfortunately irreversible, but we would like all the local residents of Hazelbury Bryan to accept our sincere apologies and acknowledge our efforts to promote the well-being of the local hedgehog population on and around the development going forwards and to prevent this from happening again.’

Hedgehogs are a protected species in the UK and their numbers have declined by a third in the last 20 years. 

There are now believed to be as few as one million hedgehogs left in the UK.

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