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Conservation detection dog saving Britain’s hedgehogs
Henry is one of a group of conservation dogs from Conservation K9 Consultancy.

Springer spaniel Henry sniffs-out hedgehogs at risk of land development

A conservation detection dog is undergoing training to sniff-out nesting hedgehogs before their habitat is cleared for development.

Springer spaniel Henry is one of a group of conservation dogs from Conservation K9 Consultancy. Working with his trainers, Henry is learning to find hedgehogs in a range of different habitats and conditions, so they can be moved to safety.

The project is being led by Lucy Bearman-Brown, a senior lecturer in animal science at Hartpury University, in collaboration with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Together with Henry’s trainer Louise Wilson, Lucy finds hedgehogs the traditional way with spotlights and marks them with a small radio tracking device. Henry then scours the area so that Lucy can monitor how effective he is at locating the hedgehogs.

Next, to see if modern technology can help with detection rates, Lucy searches the area herself using thermal imaging cameras. Both methods are being tested in the winter, when hedgehogs are hibernating, and the summer, when they are active, to show just how much of a 'super-dog' Henry is.

“As we suspected, Henry’s already been finding hedgehogs that I couldn’t locate using traditional methods – he is incredible!” she said.
“He is particularly good at finding hedgehogs hiding in thick undergrowth, much to the bemusement of Louise as she follows behind on the end of Henry’s lead.”

When Henry finds a hedgehog, he lets Louise know by sitting quietly nearby and looking at her. He then receives his reward, a game of fetch, away from the hedgehog.

“These early findings suggest we may soon have a new method that is more effective for finding hedgehogs at risk from land development, so we can move them out of harm’s way," Lucy continued. “The plan is that once this concept is proven, more dogs can be trained to help find hidden hedgehogs.

Image (C) Hartpury University.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”