Wrocław steps up its ‘keep hedgehogs safe’ campaign by rolling out more road sign warnings
Special road signs in Wrocław warning motorists to watch out for hedgehogs will be expanded to include more roads in a bid to prevent the high number of the animals being killed.
The signs, which depict a graphic of a single hedgehog in a black outline beneath the capitalised “Warning Hedgehogs”, was the winning design voted on by residents of the city at the beginning of the year.
The first signs went up on the 20th March 2022 near a viaduct and since then city officials encouraged residents to report other locations where they felt the signs were needed.
By the 1st of September 2022, they had received 34 applications encompassing 20 roads across the city.
Klaudia Piątek, Press Officer for the Road and City Maintenance department at the City of Wrocław, said: “All applications will be looked into. Above all, we want to compare the applications with the interventions of the EKOSTRAŻ [an animal rescue group], which undertakes daily actions saving the lives of hedgehogs and also has information about where the most frequent accidents with the animals occur.”
Marta Zienkiewicz from the Association for the Protection of Animals EKOSTRAŻ added: “We see a lot of hedgehogs coming to us, which are the victims of road accidents, it is around 25 percent of cases.
“Hedgehogs have such a protective mechanism that they don’t run away from danger, but they curl up in a ball and puff themselves out.
“That’s why we should pay particular attention to them on the road, both at night and in the day, because it is then that feeding mothers can walk onto the road, as well as ill hedgehogs.”
She continued: “In Poland, hedgehogs are under partial protection, which means that there is a ban on capturing them and keeping them as well as on destroying their nests.
“I would also add to that the moral obligation of caring for them, since they are living beings which live together with is and also in cities.”
The portal “Zwierzęta na Drodze” [Animals on the road] states that nationwide estimates, even for small countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, show that the yearly death rate of hedgehogs is between 100,000 and 300,000 a year.
Wrocław’s road sign initiative is part of the project “JEŻdżę bezpiecznie – Bezpieczna droga dla jeży” [I drive safely – Safe roads for hedgehogs], which includes a play on words as the Polish word for drive contains the word hedgehog.
The new signs will be erected in the first quarter of next year following consultations with EKOSTRAŻ to decide upon the best locations.