A WILDLIFE ADVOCATE has welcomed the introduction of a new rule which makes councils put up simpler wildlife signs to protect them better.

Haydon Bridge resident Hayley Watson, 30, who is affectionately know as 'toad girl' after saving toads and other animals on Northumberland roads, believes that a new rule to make it easier for local authorities to put up wildlife warning signs is a 'step in the right direction'.

The current hedgehog sign will be updated following feedback from the sector to make it clearer for drivers.

Alongside this, rules around the warning signs will be relaxed to make it easier for local authorities to put up small wildlife warning signs, helping to better protect hedgehogs and other small animals.

The rule comes into effect today (Friday, December 22).

Changes made by the Department for Transport will ensure local authorities are able to place small wild animal warning signs where they are needed most rather than having to apply to the Department on a case-by-case basis.

Hayley said: "It’s a step in the right direction to protecting our wildlife. It means that action can be taken quicker when needed instead of waiting for a case to be approved.

"More could always be done, such as tunnels under roads, education to the public on how they can help etc but this is a wonderful start."

Transport secretary Mark Harper adds:  “These common-sense changes will lead to more small animal signs across the country, cutting down on bureaucracy to help protect both drivers and small animals, improving safety on our roads and making sure fewer casualties are checked in to wildlife hospitals like these.”

"The small animal warning sign depicts a hedgehog and was first introduced in 2019. As well as cutting the restrictive red tape preventing them being placed, the Government has also refreshed the design by adding white quills to the hedgehog’s back. This will improve clarity and make it more visible from a distance for all road users.  

"The changes will also help protect vital crossing routes for hedgehogs and other small mammals, particularly on rural roads. Hedgehog numbers in particular have dropped by 30-75 per cent in rural areas since the millennium, with traffic a major factor in the decline. "