Paramedics had a prickly patient to deal with in Devon last night – and a police dog unit turned up to provide assistance.
Police were concerned when they spotted an ambulance stopped in the road in Paignton with its hazard lights on, and so stopped to investigate – and lend a hand if needed.
However, they discovered the ambulance had stopped to help hedgehog cross the road.
Sharing details of incident on Twitter, the police dog handlers said: “Stopped last night to assist @ swasFT (South West Ambulance Service) in Paignton after seeing an ambulance stopped in the road with hazards on.
“On checking all was OK, it turned out they had stopped to help a hedgehog that was in the middle of the road continue his journey to safety! # lifesavers.”
The tweet has proved popular with Devon Dog Handlers followers, attracting hundreds of likes over night. Several have thanked the emergency services for taking the time to help hedgehogs, whose numbers have dwindled in recent years.
Last Summer, the Department for Transport said it would be introducing new warning signs featuring an image of a hedgehog s to advise motorists of potential hazards to small animals.
The signs will be sited in areas where there is a large wildlife population, especially, squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.
It was hoped the signs will help reverse a decline in wildlife numbers and prevent accidents on the roads, the Department for Transport said.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling urged animal welfare groups and local councils to help identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the new signs should be located.
Estimates put the hedgehog population in England, Wales and Scotland at about one million, compared with 30 million in the 1950s, the BBC reported.
The DfT says its new sign is “filling a gap” between the existing signs carrying warnings about smaller animals such as migratory toads and wildfowl, and those highlighting larger animals.
Jill Nelson, from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), says the signs were created after the charity and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) discussed their concerns with Mr Grayling.
Research by PTES and the BHPS in 2018 suggested hedgehogs are disappearing more rapidly in the countryside, as hedgerows and field margins are lost to intensive farming, and the DfT says the sign is designed to reverse their decline “in particular”.
The DfT says that between 2005 and 2017,100 people were killed, and a further 14,173 injured in accidents in Britain where an animal, excluding horses, were in the road.