The UK’s only hedgehog detection dog was on a Wrexham University campus to track down the spiky creatures.
Henry, a Springer Spaniel, has a sense of smell that is 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, which helps him spot signs from the animal.
Students and staff participated in the search and followed Henry as he sniffed his way across campus, through the university’s science garden, quad bike, and surrounding greenery.
Henry was accompanied by his handler and founder of Conservation K9 Consultancy, Louise Wilson, who trains wildlife detection dogs like Henry for conservation work.
Following the search, Louise delighted students and staff with a question and answer session in which she described the benefits of using dogs to identify wildlife.
“It’s non-biased and non-invasive, and especially in hedgehogs that are nocturnal, there is nothing else they’ll seek on the same level as Henry during the day.”
Wrexham Glyndwr University welcomed Britain’s only hedgehog detection dog – Henry – to their main campus to track down the spiky creatures.
If Henry finds a hedgehog, he will indicate by sitting or lying down next to Louise, who will then check the spot and be careful not to disturb the animal.
Louise has been working with dogs for 18 years and has trained countless rescue dogs like Henry.
“This environment is perfect for him because it calms him down. He can cover a huge area that will focus him and help him with his rehabilitation.”
Training for wildlife detection dogs is the same as training for drug and explosives detection dogs.
Louise explained, “It’s association training where we use a clicker and a ball. As soon as he smells the scent of the hedgehog, we hear the click and he knows that his reward is the ball. ”
She added, “It takes a long time for people to listen to us, but with the research we are doing and the progress we are making, it shows that it can be done. There are many other uses for wildlife detection dogs, and we need to start using them to protect our wildlife. ”
Wrexham Glyndwr University is one of 150 universities, FE colleges and schools participating in the Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign, which aims to raise awareness and help protect one of the UK’s most beloved mammals.
As a result of all this hard work, the university managed to get its bronze award in early 2021 and the team is now looking to achieve its silver award.
Jenny Thomas, Senior Safety, Health and Environment Officer at Wrexham Glyndwr University, said, “Having Henry on hand to help us find hedgehogs on campus is a great addition to our Hedgehog Friendly Campus project and has staff and giving students a great look at dogs can help us learn more about wildlife on our local patch. ”