Ipswich hedgehog officer starts new role

Alexandra North
Image caption About 150 people from around the world applied to be Ipswich's hedgehog officer

A dedicated hedgehog officer has started work after seeing off worldwide competition for the role.

Alexandra North, 25, a zoology graduate from Swindon, beat about 150 applicants from countries including France, Spain, Germany, South Korea, China, the US and Nepal to land the role with Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

She began the £24,000-a-year role in Ipswich on Monday.

The trust is focussing on the town after a large number of sightings.

She will now start to work on improving animal numbers and working with people to make gardens more wildlife friendly.

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She said: "We know hedgehogs are in trouble, there's concerning decline so this is a really exciting opportunity to try and combat the issue in Suffolk

"Hopefully with us really raising awareness we'll be able to help the situation."

Almost 12,000 hedgehogs, dead and alive, have been recorded in Suffolk over the past two years, with about 2,500 of these around Ipswich.

Image copyright Ali North
Image caption "Hedgehogs are in trouble", says officer Alexandra North

The trust, which is funding the role with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, previously said there was a "rich natural network" for hedgehogs across Ipswich, "including its beautiful parks as well as the cemetery, allotments and churches".

Ms North has a postgraduate degree in biodiversity and conservation and previously worked as a researcher at Cambridge-based conservation group Birdlife International.

She said she hoped to "encourage everyone to see how making small changes really can make a difference to these little creatures".

"It will be about engaging with different groups of people to get them interested and excited in helping the species," she added.

She plans to build a network of volunteers who in turn will help build a network of hedgehog-friendly routes around Ipswich's urban landscape.

Image copyright Paul Hobson
Image caption She hopes to make Ipswich "a really hedgehog-friendly town"

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