The Mail on Sunday
Henry, the sniffer dog who could save our hedgehogs
A RESOURCEFUL sniffer dog is being trained to detect hedgehogs in a revolutionary bid to preserve their rapidly dwindling population.
Henry, a three-year-old springer spaniel, locates the mammals – distant relatives of the shrew family – so they can be moved out of harm’s way ahead of land development.
With his remarkable sense of smell, which is 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, he can detect a hidden hedgehog 250 yards away. Upon finding one, Henry, pictured, sits next to it so his handler can come and investigate.
Trainer Linda Wilson said: ‘He doesn’t actually like the odour of the hedgehog so he doesn’t go near the nest.’
Henry is on the books at Conservation K9 Consultancy in Wrexham, North Wales, which trains sniffer dogs for both the detection of wildlife and for conservation purposes.
The project, the first of its type, will run until May and is being overseen by staff at Hartpury University in Gloucester. If the trial is successful, it is hoped other dogs can be trained to aid hedgehog conservation, as numbers in Britain have halved since 2000 as more of their natural habitat is lost to development. They spend most of their lives in dense undergrowth and long grass, meaning they are in danger when land is cleared. Fay Vass, head of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said: ‘A detection dog like Henry could save hedgehog lives if he can pinpoint their whereabouts on such sites.’