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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 06:59 GMT
Hedgehog campaign rekindled
Hedgehog
Uist hedgehogs face another fight against extinction
Animal lovers have drawn up battle plans to resist a further cull of hedgehogs in the Outer Hebrides.

Uist Hedgehog Rescue (UHR) met in Birmingham on Friday to see how it can fight a second Scottish Natural Heritage-led cull on the island.

UHR is hoping to persuade celebrities such as Sting and Joanna Lumley to go to North Uist and help stop the cull.

The scheme was deemed necessary because hedgehogs eat the eggs of important local ground-nesting birds.

SNH killed just 66 hedgehogs there last year at a cost of 100,000, or about 1,500 per animal.

Despite the seemingly poor numbers, SNH believes it killed 70% of the hedgehogs in its first target area in 2003.

Death sentence

The hedgehogs were killed by lethal injection after first receiving a knock-out gas.

Last month SNH agreed to spend 186,475 per year to help rid Uist of hedgehogs, with the cull set to be extended to the adjoining island of Benbecula during the latest drive.

Some 5,000 hedgehogs are thought to be at risk.

Protesters, such as UHR, have strongly attacked the cull as "inhumane" and a waste of taxpayers' money with more than 3,000 letters of objection received by SNH this year.

Last year UHR, a consortium of animal protection, rehabilitation and rescue organisations, handed out 5 to islanders for each rescued hedgehog.

They saved and relocated 156 hedgehogs during their summer-long campaign.

Star backing

Celebrities including Sting, Sir Paul McCartney, Twiggy, Joanna Lumley, Sir Tim Rice and Watership Down author Richard Adams all offered the animals homes over the summer and UHR is hoping they will do the same this year.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), which is also involved in this year's rescue plans, still has 40,000 of the 70,000 raised to help save the hedgehogs from last year.

But it says a new appeal - first among its members - may be necessary to mount the new rescue mission.

Fay Vaas, BHPS chief executive, said: "I hope we will mount a rescue campaign.

"It is very unlikely we will not be there but we don't have enough money and there may be another appeal."


SEE ALSO:
New hedgehog cull planned
16 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Hedgehog cull 'had support'
29 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Hedgehog cull comes to an end
23 May 03  |  Scotland
Cost of hedgehog cull defended
19 May 03  |  Scotland
Hedgehogs saved by animal charity
28 Apr 03  |  Shropshire


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