Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Hedgies in the News
Tue Feb 20, 4:16 PM ET
An albino hedgehog in captivity. A death sentence hanging over hedgehogs on a remote Scottish island was lifted, after conservationists agreed to end an annual cull that has become a prickly issue among animal welfare groups.(AFP/DPA/File)
LONDON (AFP) - A death sentence hanging over hedgehogs on a remote Scottish island was lifted, after conservationists agreed to end an annual cull that has become a prickly issue among animal welfare groups.
Hundreds of the creatures on Uist, in the north-west Outer Hebrides island chain, have been given lethal injections since 2003 because of the threat they pose to rare wading birds and their eggs.
But Scottish National Heritage (SNH), which has carried out the cull, unanimously agreed at a meeting Tuesday to end the practice and instead relocate the mammals to the Scottish mainland to be monitored.
"An agreement to go ahead with a trial translocation was reached," an SNH spokesman said.
The SNH had previously maintained that removing the hedgehogs to the mainland would lead to many of them dying, or suffering en route.
But the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was possible to transfer them -- but only in the right way.
Among the celebrities backing the animal charities were Queen guitarist Brian May and the actress Joanna Lumley.
Support also came from the St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, which is named after Mrs Tiggy-winkle, the maternal hedgehog character in author Beatrix Potter's children's books.
More than 600 hedgehogs have been culled and more than 750 saved since 2003, according to the Uist Hedgehog Rescue group -- a coalition of animal rights organisations on the island.
Spokesman Ross Minett welcomed the decision but said it was "disgraceful" it had taken so long.
"We sincerely hope that lessons will be learned from this experience and that conservation organisations will incorporate a respect for animals and their welfare into future policies," he added.