Scottish Natural Heritage halts Hebrides hedgehog cull –agrees to relocate instead

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:


INVERNESS–The Scottish Natural Heritage
board of directors on February 20 “approved a
trial translocation of hedgehogs from the Western
Isles to the mainland,” the government-backed
trust announced.
“The move followed consideration of new
advice received from the Scottish SPCA that a
trial translocation should be conducted rather
than a cull,” Scottish Natural Heritage
admitted–without admitting that this is exactly
what the Uist Hedgehog Rescue coalition
recommended all along.
The coalition includes Advocates for
Animals, the British Hedgehog Preservation
Society, Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust, and
International Animal Rescue.

The Scottish SPCA dropped support for
killing hedgehogs to protect birds after “new
research by the British Hedgehog Preservation
Society found that island hedgehogs survive if
relocated,” summarized Independent Scotland
correspondent Paul Kelbie. “The study, by
ecologist Hugh War-wick, published in the
scientific journal Lutra, showed that 80% of the
hedgehogs relocated to the mainland survived when
deaths unrelated to relocation were discounted.
Another study, published in 2006 by
Stephen Harris of Bristol University, also said
hedgehogs could be relocated successfully.”
Thus ended four years of persecution of the
alleged most deadly hedgehogs since Deinogalerix,
the two-foot-long “terrible hedgehog” who
terrorized the middle Mocene epoch, 15 million
years ago.
Gardeners seeking a natural method of
slug control in 1974 imported diminutive native
British hedgehogs to North Uist, South Uist,
and Benbecula islands in the Outer Hebrides off
Scotland’s west coast. By 2002, Scottish
Natural Heritage and the Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds alleged that more than 5,000
descendants of the original few pair were
nest-raiding the islands’ native wading birds
into extinction.
Starting in 2003, Scottish Natural
Heritage managed to kill 690 hedgehogs. Racing
the killers to find hedgehogs, Uist Hedgehog
Rescue volunteers relocated 756.
“The Uist hedgehog fiasco was just the
latest lunacy from Scottish Natural Heritage,”
said Animal Concern campaigns consultant John
Robins, of Dumbarton, Scotland. They have also
been promoting deer stalking and shooting of
dwindling grouse numbers, while failing in their
duty to monitor the issuing of government
licenses to cull certain species of birds.”
Robins asked Scottish First Minister Jack
McConnell “to instigate an independent
investigation into the management of SNH and
their use of public funds.”
Instead, wrote Guardian Scotland
correspondent Severin Carrel, “The Scottish
Executive is expected to confirm soon that it
will be a criminal offence, punishable by up to
two years in prison or an unlimited fine, for
anyone to release one of nine species on to a
Scottish island: badger, hedgehog, red fox,
pine marten, common rat, red squirrel, stoat,
weasel and wild cat.
“The National Trust for Scotland has just
spent £500,000 eradicating more than 10,000 rats
which had colonised Canna,” Carrel continued.
“No rats have been seen since last year, and
there were 273 successful razorbill nestings in
2006, compared with 27 in 2005.
“Scottish Natural Heritage and the
National Trust are considering culls of mink and
rats on Rum, Iona, Mull and the Ardnamurchan
peninsula,” Carrel added. Feral mink, escaped
or released from fur farms before mink farming
was banned at the end of 2002, are blamed for “a
complete collapse in tern breeding,” Carrel
While attempting to purge hedgehogs,
Scottish Natural Heritage spent £1.65 million to
kill 230 mink in the Uists and Benbecula,
reported Jeremy Watson of The Scotsman.
Counselors from the islands have now
asked Scottish Natural Heritage to gas rabbits,
whom they blame for causing severe erosion of the
machair, or sand pastures, along the Atlantic
coast of the Outer Hebrides. The pastures have
traditionally been grazed heavily by crofters’
sheep. Considering rabbits a nuisance and rival
for the sparse grass, crofters have historically
killed them by any means available

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.