The Department for Transport unveiled rule changes today aimed at improving the protection of hedgehogs and other small animals on English roads.
The revisions make it simpler for local authorities to install wildlife warning signs, with a particular focus on updating the current hedgehog sign for better driver comprehension.
Alongside this adjustment, regulations surrounding small wildlife warning signs will be relaxed, facilitating local authorities in their efforts to deploy these signs more effectively. The goal is to enhance the overall safety of hedgehogs and other small animals on roadways.
The Department for Transport’s changes empower local authorities to strategically place small wild animal warning signs without the need for case-by-case applications to the Department. This streamlined process is expected to optimize the placement of warning signs where they are most needed.
To mark this shift in approach, Transport Secretary Mark Harper visited Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire. During the visit, Harper interacted with various recovering animals, including hedgehogs, some of which were undergoing treatment for road-related injuries. The tour included observing a hedgehog undergoing surgery, participating in hydrotherapy treatments, assisting in animal weigh-ins, and witnessing a hedgehog posing in front of the updated sign.
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper Said: “It Was An Absolute Pleasure To See Behind The Scenes At The Famous Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, Where I Witnessed The Incredible Work They Do To Heal A Wide Range Of Wildlife.
“These Common Sense Changes Will Lead To More Small Animal Signs Across The Country, Cutting Down On Bureaucracy To Help Protect Both Drivers And Small Animals, Improving Safety On Our Roads And Making Sure Fewer Casualties Are Checked In To Wildlife Hospitals Like These.”
The Small Animal Warning Sign Depicts A Hedgehog And Was First Introduced In 2019. As Well As Cutting The Restrictive Red Tape Preventing Them Being Placed, The Government Has Also Refreshed The Design By Adding White Quills To The Hedgehog’s Back. This Will Improve Clarity And Make It More Visible From A Distance For All Road Users.
The Changes Will Also Help Protect Vital Crossing Routes For Hedgehogs And Other Small Mammals, Particularly On Rural Roads. Hedgehog Numbers In Particular Have Dropped By 30-75% In Rural Areas Since The Millennium, With Traffic A Major Factor In The Decline.
Colin Stocker, CEO At Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital Said: “On Behalf Of Myself And Everyone Here At Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital We Were Delighted To Welcome Mark Harper To The Hospital To Hear More About The Policy Change That Will Make The Process For Erecting Small Mammal Road Signs Easier.
“A Lot Of The 14,000 Animals Admitted To Us Every Year Come In Due To Road Traffic Accidents And Making Motorists More Aware Of Their Presence And Encouraging Them To Be More Cautious Is A Great Step Towards Helping British Wildlife.
“We Were Able To Show Mark Around Our Hospital And He Was Able To See Some Of The Patients We Currently Have In And Meet The Veterinary Team Behind The Lifesaving Work Carried Out Here. We Hope This Policy Change Will Result In More Signage That In Turn Will Remind Motorists To Be Mindful Of British Wildlife When Out And About.”