Proposed Hedgehog Cull Draws Protests

Animal rights activists and Scottish Natural Heritage are fighting over a proposed cull of the hedgehog population on the island of North Uist.

The island is home to about 200 hedgehogs, and the Scottish Natural Heritage has a single goal in mind — trap and kill them all. The hedgehogs are not native to the island and SNH maintains that they are jeopardizing the island’s native bird species. An SNH spokesman told The Scotsman,

Urgen action is needed to protection the internationally important native birds of the island. The hedgehogs are not native to the islands, and have been eating huge numbers of birds eggs.

Advocates for Animals’ Ross Minnett wants the opportunity to capture the animals and take them to the mainland. He told The Scotsman,

. . . we are still appealing to SNH to hand over any hedgehogs they catch to us so they can be relocated to the mainland. There really is no reason for them to be killed when we have everything read and in place to deal with them.

The SNH has opposed releasing the hedgehogs on the mainland because the animals are strongly territorial and the mainland already has plenty of hedgehogs — it estimates that up to 40 percent of the island hedgehogs and 20% of the mainland hedgehogs would be killed in intraspecies fighting if the animals are transplanted. As a spokesman for SNH puts it,

Some believe they will be ‘rescuing’ hedgehogs. They could in fact end up ‘rescuing’ animals from a humane death to condemn them to a slow and painful death. Both groups will end up killing hedgehogs. We’re just being upfront about it.

SNH is also carrying out a mink cull on another of the islands in the Uists.


Hedgehog cull gets go-ahead despite rescue bid by activists. Jeremy Watson, The Scotsman, March 30, 2003.

Uist goes to war over hedgehogs galore. John MacLeod, Sunday Times (London), March 30, 2003.

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