Wildlife struggles in freezing April

Hedgehogs at St Bernard's Animal Sanctuary Robin and Biggie
Hedgehogs at St Bernard's Animal Sanctuary Robin and Biggie

The continued freezing weather is threatening ever greater numbers of wild animals, birds and insects in the Dales, experts have warned.

While animals can deal with harsh weather, experts are fearful that if the unprecedented cold snap continues, it could have a drastic effect on many species.

Examples include the hedgehog, which can run out of fat reserves during a long hibernation, and birds such as barn owls, who rely on hearing their prey – mainly voles, shrews and mice – as they scuttle across the floor, but cannot do so when the ground is frozen.

Grass snakes and slow worms are also under threat as they cannot come out of hibernation until warmer weather arrives but only have limited reserves.

Nick Brown, a volunteer for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said that if the cold continues they would be “extremely concerned” about many species.

“But if this cold weather is followed by a summer as wet as last year – then it could be a real crisis for wildlife across the country,” said Nick.

For the time being, people can help the situation by ensuring they leave food out for birds.

Nick said: “If you’ve got an empty feeder, then make sure you fill it up. Throw small pieces of bread into the garden and the fat-blocks are great too.”