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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 16:24 GMT
Proposal could halt hedgehog cull
Hedgehog (Pic: Uist Hedgehog Rescue Centre/PA)
Campaigners have opposed previous culls
Scottish Natural Heritage is proposing to end the cull of hedgehogs on Scottish islands for a trial period.

The SNH board is being asked to consider relocating the animals from the Outer Hebrides to the mainland.

The cull was introduced in the Uists in 2003 because of the threat they pose to rare wading birds and their eggs.

SNH said it was acting after receiving new advice from the Scottish SPCA, which had until now advised that a cull was more humane than relocation.

Uist Hedgehog Rescue, a coalition which has been collecting hedgehogs from the area and taking them to the mainland, said it was "absolutely delighted" at the proposal.

Trial relocation

The cull, by lethal injection, had been scheduled to resume again this spring.

However, three options will be considered by the SNH board next Tuesday in Inverness.

Staff are recommending that the cull be replaced with a trial relocation scheme.

We believe that scientific research and decades of practical experience have shown that translocation is the humane and ethical solution to this problem
Ross Minett
Uist Hedgehog Rescue

The option was put forward after the Scottish SPCA wrote to SNH suggesting such a step.

"SNH has consistently taken advice from the Scottish SPCA on animal welfare issues and until now they have advised that culling was more humane than translocation," said a spokesman for the heritage body.

The other options are a one-year delay for further discussions with the Scottish SPCA over the trial scheme, and to go ahead as planned with the cull.

SNH said that before a "trial translocation" could take place there would need to be agreement on issues such as the number of hedgehogs to be released and the monitoring of their progress.

Uist Hedgehog Rescue, which opposes the cull, has caught more than 750 animals over the last four years and moved them to the mainland.

Release sites

Spokesman Ross Minett said: "Having rescued and translocated hedgehogs from the Uists for the last four years, UHR has a proven track record and we will offer to be involved should SNH decide to undertake translocation.

"We are seeking an urgent meeting with SNH to offer the benefit of our experience and to discuss our existing successful protocol."

He said the animals should travel as short a distance as possible to release sites.

Mr Minett said the Scottish SPCA's change of policy brought it into line with the vast majority of other animal welfare organisations.

"As we have always said, we believe that scientific research and decades of practical experience have shown that translocation is the humane and ethical solution to this problem," he said.

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05 May 05 |  Scotland

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