On this week’s podcast, we discuss the importance of checking the garden for hidden wildlife before using the lawnmower or the strimmer.
Gardeners urged to look before they lop
This coming bank holiday weekend, gardeners have been urged to tread carefully to avoid disturbing or harming wildlife.
Every year the ISPCA receives calls about wild animals with distressing and often fatal gardening related injuries which in most cases are completely avoidable. With gardeners likely to make the most of the long weekend animal welfare charities are urging caution and asking gardeners to make quick checks for wild animals and their nests in the long grass or foliage.
The issue has been a cause of real concern for the RSPCA in England, where a hedgehog had to be euthanased last week after receiving serious facial injuries from a strimmer. Senior wildlife scientific officer at the RSPCA, Adam Grogan said: “Hedgehogs are often affected. They can be well hidden in long vegetation or can curl up into a ball when they sense danger and can be hard to spot. We also get frogs, toads and snakes with horrendous injuries caused by strimmers. Hedges are often nesting sites for birds so it is worth checking to see if there are any nests before cutting them back as damaging or disturbing birds and their nests while they are in use is not only bad for these animals but is also illegal.”
“May bank holiday weekend often encourages some very enthusiastic gardeners to get out and sort out their back yards. But however eager people feel, we urge a little bit of caution. Taking two minutes to check for wildlife before strimming, mowing or cutting could save an animal’s life or prevent its nest from being destroyed. A quick look could be all that is needed to prevent young animals from being abandoned and save others from losing a limb – or life. You never know what might be hiding away in the undergrowth.”
Cases in past years include a toad with its hind legs chopped off by a strimmer, a hedgehog burnt in pampas grass clearance and a blackbird speared by a garden fork.
How to avoid injuring wildlife in your garden
● Check long vegetation before cutting to see if any animals are hiding
● Avoid cutting hedges whilst birds are nesting
● Check for birds or their nests before clearing scrub
● Think about if you need to cut brambles or trees, or if it can wait
● Piles of logs or rubble and compost can also make good nesting/hiding places so check these too before clearing them
● Keep drains and swimming pools covered
● Remove sports and garden netting and storing it in a safe place when not in use
It is also worth keeping some areas of the garden wild and untidy as many animals rely on leaf piles, compost heaps and even weeds for nesting and food. Frogs and toads like overgrown ponds and tidying them now could disturb their eggs or newly hatched tadpoles.