Every year an unknown number of hedgehogs die or suffer horrific injuries because bonfire piles are not checked before being lit.
To save hedgehogs and other wildlife from suffering appalling suffering, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) urges that bonfires should not be built until the day that they are lit.
This will not only save wildlife from burning to death but will also stop the bonfire from getting soaked should it rain the night before.
Fay Vass, chief executive of BHPS, said: “Piles of bonfire material look like five-star hotels to a hedgehog in search of a hibernation site.
“It is crucial to dismantle and move bonfire material that has been stored in advance on open ground.
“Move it to another spot just before lighting. Ensure it is moved to clear ground - never on top of a pile of leaves as there could be a hedgehog underneath, and not too close to the pampas grass which can ignite very easily and is another favourite spot for hedgehogs to hide under.”
If a large bonfire has to be built in advance, protect it whilst building by putting some chicken wire one metre high all the way around the bottom. This should be held in place with stakes and the wire should slope outwards at an angle as hedgehogs are good climbers.
If, whilst building, a bonfire is left unattended, it is imperative to check for hedgehogs and other animals, including family pets, before lighting.
As hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, check by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a broom or pole. Never use a spade or fork as this could stab them. Using a torch will help and listen for a hissing sound as this is the noise they made when disturbed.
Remember, a professional display is always safest.