Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 14:50 UK

Prickly problem for hedgehog plan

Hedgehogs were blamed for eating eggs of rare birds

A programme to remove hedgehogs from parts of the Western Isles has failed to prevent a decline in the numbers of ground nesting birds.

Almost 1m has been spent reducing the numbers of hedgehogs in North Uist and Benbecula after they had been blamed for eating the eggs of wading birds.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) began a cull in 2003, which later became a relocation programme after protests.

However, SNH has found the numbers of rare wading birds had still declined.

Not survive

The report presents the government body with a number of possible options ranging from halting the hedgehog eradication scheme to stepping up the campaign's intensity.

The cull was originally started to protect the eggs of wading birds.

The agency had previously said hedgehogs would not survive relocation.

However, animal welfare campaigners began their own programme of trapping and transporting the hedgehogs.

SNH hand the hedgehogs over to a welfare organisation in line with guidance from the Scottish SPCA.

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