Wrexham Glyndwr University welcomed the UK’s only hedgehog detection dog onto their main campus to track down the prickly creatures.
Henry, a rescue Springer Spaniel, has a sense of smell 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s which helps him sniff out signs of the animal.
Students and staff joined the search, following Henry as he sniffed his way across campus through the university’s Science Garden, the quad and surrounding greenery.
Henry was accompanied by his handler and founder of the Conservation K9 Consultancy, Louise Wilson who trains wildlife detection dogs like Henry to be used for conservation work.
Following on from the search, Louise wowed students and staff with a Q and A session where she described the benefits of using wildlife detection dogs,
“It’s non-biased and non-invasive, and especially with hedgehogs as they’re nocturnal, there’s nothing else out there that searches for them to the same level as Henry in the daytime.”
When Henry finds a hedgehog he indicates by sitting or lying down beside Louise who will then check the spot, taking care to not disturb the animal.
Louise has worked in dog handling for 18 years and has trained countless rescue dogs like Henry.
“This environment is perfect for him because it calms him, he can cover a huge area which focuses him and helps with his rehabilitation.”
The training that goes into the wildlife detection dogs is the same as the training for drugs and explosive detection dogs.
Louise explained, “It’s association training where we use a clicker and a ball. Once he smells the scent of the hedgehog, we sound the clicker and he knows his reward is the ball.”
She added, “It’s taking a long time for people to listen to us but with the research we’re doing and the progress we’re making it is showing that it can be done. There’s loads of other uses for wildlife detection dogs and we need to start utilising them to protect our wildlife.”
Wrexham Glyndwr University is one of 150 universities, FE colleges and schools that are taking part in the Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign which aims to raise awareness and help to protect one of Britain’s best loved mammals.
As a result of all this hard work the University were successful in achieving their Bronze award at the start of 2021 and the team care now working towards achieving their silver award.
Wrexham Glyndwr University Senior Safety, Health and Environment Officer, Jenny Thomas said,
“Having Henry on site to help us sniff out hedgehogs on campus is a great addition to our Hedgehog Friendly Campus Project and has given staff and students a great insight into what dogs can do to help us find out more about wildlife on our local patch.”
If you’d like to know more about the project you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the information, including a webinar on what hedgehog first aid, or their website. https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/AboutGlyndwrUniversity/Sustainability/GettingInvolved/HedgehogFriendlyCampus/
Wrexham Glyndwr University also has a variety of animal based courses on offer click here for more information.