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New battle in hedgehog wars

[Saturday 13 January 2007]
Battle over Uist Hedgehogs

ONE OF the strangest wars ever fought between two sets of nature lovers seems set for another battle with the publication of new scientific evidence which could stop the wholesale slaughter of hedgehogs on remote Scottish islands.

Hostilities broke our four years ago when Scottish bird lovers accused hedgehogs introduced to the Uist islands in the Outer Hebrides of eating the eggs of thousands of ground-nesting sea birds - and began to slaughter the "invaders" in their thousands.

This infuriated the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), which asked for permission to trap the hedgehogs and move them back to the mainland. This, however, was refused by Scottish National Heritage because, it claimed, the mammals would die slow and lingering deaths because they would be unable to acclimatise to their new homes.

This led to a bizarre outbreak of hedgehog smuggling which could have come straight from the pages of Whisky Galore, the famous comic novel set in the islands, whilst scientists were commissioned to investigate the lingering death claims.

Yesterday, the BHPS announced that the research had proved that "trans-located" hedgehogs thrived quite naturally in their new mainland homes - and demanded that Scottish Heritage stop cull and allow supporters to ferry the surviving mammals to safety.

The response of the heritage group is now eagerly awaited...

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