Before striking a match make sure there’s no wildlife sheltering.

It’s not only fireworks that can cause stress or injury to animals at this time of year, traditional bonfires can be fatal to lots of wild critters.  Hedgehogs, frogs, toads and other small mammals can all find the wood and garden debris you’ve piled to burn are very attractive, ready made shelter.

To avoid injury, wait until the last minute to build your bonfire where you intend to light it or restack it in a different location. That way any wildlife who are inside have the chance to escape.  If you have a large bonfire, protect it by surrounding the bottom with chicken wire (a good metre high), stopping animals getting into the pile.  Hedgehogs are great climbers so angle the wire outwards to stop hedgies from scaling the sides.  You can use a pole or long stick to gently prod around the bonfire, making sure to lift larger items and checking right into the centre.

If you happen to find an animal, using gloves and a suitable container, move them to a safe, quiet locations.  Ideally, keep the animal detained until after the fire has gone out and is completely cool.  Take as much leaf litter/nesting material with them and make sure they are not disturbed after moving.

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