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Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 12:29 GMT
Hundreds call hedgehog line
Hedgehog
The hedgehogs are facing death by lethal injection
A Merseyside animal carer who was trying to find new homes for 50 hedgehogs has received more than 1,000 phone calls in four days.

Caroline Preston made the appeal for the hedgehogs after hearing that up to 5,000 are facing culling on Scottish islands.

Ms Preston, from Wirral Hedgehog Rescue, said she could not believe the public response to the appeal for the hedgehogs that are currently on the Uist Isles.

She was prompted to act after Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) sanctioned the hedgehogs' slaughter in an effort to help preserve rare birds on the islands.

They are all still on the island and are not likely to come out of hibernation until about the middle of April

Caroline Preston, hedgehog carer
The hedgehogs have flourished on the islands, where they have no natural predators, but eat the birds' eggs.

Ms Preston said many people who contacted her thought she had the hedgehogs at her home.

She told BBC News Online: "They are all still on the island and are not likely to come out of hibernation until about the middle of April.

"But I have got relief sites for these hedgehogs, so I would like to say a big thankyou to the people of Wirral for their response, but I don't need any more calls."

Ms Preston, who worked for the RSPCA and is backed by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said she will check potential sites carefully before they can be used.

Members of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) have lobbied the Scottish Executive in a bid to save the hedgehogs and re-locate them to the mainland.

A handful of the hedgehogs were first introduced to the Uists in 1974 to help control slugs and snails in islanders' gardens.


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See also:

28 Jan 03 | Scotland
23 Dec 02 | Scotland
11 Jul 02 | Scotland
10 Jul 02 | Scotland
09 Jul 02 | Scotland
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