Gardeners are being urged to check bonfires before lighting – to ensure hedgehogs are not burnt alive.Ben and Hedgehog

While most awareness campaigns focus on Bonfire Night, hedgehogs are at risk throughout the autumn as gardeners and allotment-holders start fires to dispose of garden waste.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is urging gardeners not to build fires until the day they’re lit.

This will save hedgehogs from crawling in and then later suffering a horrific death.

“Hedgehogs are a species in decline; every single one is precious,” said BHPS patron Ben Fogle (pictured).

“It is awful to think of poor hedgehogs being burnt alive, so please check fires carefully before lighting them.”

Hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom 2ft (0.6m) of a bonfire.

If a bonfire has been built some time before lighting, gardeners must check for hogs by lifting the bonfire bit-by-bit with a broom.

Never use a spade or fork, as this risks stabbing creatures.