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Guide to a Wildlife Friendly Bonfire Night

bonfire night

With Bonfire Night fast approaching, agb Environmental have put together these top tips to help you avoid harming animals which may be sheltering within them. Common animals found under bonfires may include hedgehogs, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.

Possibly one of the most well known species to be affected by bonfires is hedgehogs. Since 2000, rural populations of hedgehogs have declined by at least 50% and urban populations have declined by up to a third in the same period (Wembridge & Langton, 2015). As a result of their continued decline, hedgehogs are listed under the NERC Act (2006). They are listed as a species of priority conservation concern, and are therefore a material consideration of planning.

These are our recommendations to avoid harming animals this Bonfire Night:

  • Ideally, build the bonfire the day you plan to light it. Alternatively move the bonfire to a nearby location before lighting, to ensure that no animals are inside.
  • Gently lift parts of the bonfire up and check thoroughly for animals using a torch.
  • Light only one side of the bonfire, so that if you didn’t spot some sleepy animals inside, they can escape through an unlit area.
  • Have some water to hand so you can put the fire out if you do spot an animal in trouble (good H&S advice in any case!).
  • Avoid building and lighting bonfires near trees, hedgerows or buildings with bird-boxes attached, to avoid disturbing roosting birds.
  • Make sure the bonfire is completely extinguished before leaving it unattended, so animals don’t get caught in hot ash.
Discover more

agb Environmental can provide advice on ensuring that your development remains hedgehog-friendly both prior to and following construction. To discuss your next project, contact Head of Natural Environment, Richard Parmee on email or by calling our Newmarket office on 01638 663226.


  • Wembridge, D. & Langton, S. (2015). The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2015. People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The Hedgehog Preservation Society.
  • Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act (2006). HSMO, London.
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