A ‘hedgehog highway’ has been created at a South Lanarkshire railway station.
Small holes have been cut at regular intervals along the bottom of boundary fencing at Lanark to allow the tiny animals to move around the grounds more freely.
Railway embankments are said to be a ‘hedgehog haven’, with a mix of trees and vegetation that help provide a safe and food-rich area for the creatures to forage and feed.
Network Rail Scotland said it was contacted earlier this year by a concerned local resident who had noticed that hedgehogs were becoming trapped under a boundary fence at the station.
A team, which included an in-house ecologist, visited the site to better understand the situation and devise ways to stop the animals from getting trapped.
The hedgehog highway has now been marked with signs and an information board has been installed to highlight the reasons behind the work as well as raising the profile of hedgehogs in general.
Following the successful trial, Network Rail Scotland said it intends to add a small hedgehog-friendly hole at the base of each back garden fence renewal carried out.
It is hoped that overtime this will help to boost the dwindling hedgehog numbers.
Ashleigh Wylie, Network Rail Scotland ecologist, said: “Network Rail is committed to our environment and we manage our lineside with safety, performance and biodiversity in mind. As part of a team of ecologists, we get to offer advice on protected species and habitat management to colleagues working on the railway.
“It is great when we see this advice transformed into practical action with the solutions we have advised or developed implemented and working to protect creatures on or around the railway.
“We are hopeful that when the hedgehogs waken from their hibernation, the hedgehog highway will provide a safe way for them to move freely to and from the railway.”
The initiative received support from HogWatch Scotland, which monitors hedgehog numbers and provides courses to educate and raise awareness of the plight of the tiny animals.
Eilidh Call, senior project officer with HogWatch Scotland, said: “Hedgehog numbers are in decline and part of the reason is garden fences and walls reduce the amount of land available to them.
“By making life a little easier for them by removing the barriers within our control – making holes in or under our garden fences and walls for them to pass through – we are helping them to feed and to find a mate. Quite directly helping to address the decline in numbers.
“We are delighted that Network Rail Scotland will be creating hedgehog highways on fencing renewals going forward as this will help these much-loved little creatures access food-rich environments.
“It will really make a positive contribution to protecting these little creatures for future generations to love.”