Coventry & Warwickshire

RSPCA recognises hedgehog rescuers who took on developer

Kyra Barboutis and Sophie Smith with hedgehogs Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Kyra Barboutis and Sophie Smith both run hedgehog rescue centres in their back gardens in Warwickshire

Two girls who persuaded a developer to change hedgerow netting so hedgehogs would not be trapped inside it have been recognised by the RSPCA.

Kyra Barboutis and Sophie Smith, both 13, run hedgehog rescue centres from their gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Taylor Wimpey said it would now build tunnels to help hedgehogs escape netting after the girls' intervention.

The RSPCA said it was "over the moon" to appoint Kyra and Sophie as young ambassadors for the charity.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption The girls met Taylor Wimpey and Stratford councillor Kate Rolfe to discuss the hedgerow netting

The pair set up the group Hedgehog Friendly Town when they were nine years old after growing concerns about the decline in hedgehog numbers.

Since then, they have cared for almost 500 hedgehogs in their gardens with the support of local vets.

In March, they criticised Taylor Wimpey after it attached netting to a hedge lining a 270-home development site in Warwickshire, to stop birds from nesting.

Image caption The girls said the netting would have a "devastating impact" on wildlife

Kyra posted a video on social media saying the netting would have a "devastating impact on wildlife" and said hibernating hedgehogs could be trapped.

They discussed the issue with a local councillor and after a meeting with the developer it agreed to put in further measures to protect local wildlife.

Speaking about their new roles as young ambassadors, the 13-year-olds said it was "an amazing opportunity".

"We are proof that it doesn't matter how young you are - everyone can make a difference to animals big and small."

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