IN ONE of the most bizarre confrontations ever amongst British conservationists, English hedgehog lovers are threatening to invade Scotland to save thousands of their prickly friends from slaughter.
The situation has become so tense that the Scottish parliament has been asked to act as judge in the dispute between Scottish National Heritage and the Shropshire-based British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
This is the latest step in the long-running battle over the hedgehogs on the Scottish island of Uist, which have boomed since being introduced some years ago and are now a major predator on the eggs of many ground-nesting seabirds and waders which make up one of the UK's most important bird sanctuaries.
SNH wants to exterminate the mammals and has now rejected an offer from the BHPS to trap them and relocate them to the mainland. The Scottish parliament, which has been trying the act as an intermediary between the two parties, will be asked to make a judgement on the matter on March 11.
In the meantime, enraged officials of the hedgehog society today issued a angry statement saying: "It is not the intention of this society to break the law but if necessary which shall use all legitimate means to relocate these creatures to suitable safe areas.
"We await the decision of the Scottish parliament and trust that good sense will prevail."