Hedgehog Massacre

07 July 2002
Posted by Chris Smith.

Bad news for hedgehogs living in the Western Isles of Scotland. These cute creatures are causing havoc to the local bird populations, and are now facing a cull. The Western Isles of Scotland are home to some of Europe's most important colonies of wading birds. But a recent study has shown that populations of snipe, dunlin, redshank and lapwing on the island of South Uist have declined by up to 60% over the past 7 years. However, on the neighbouring island of North Uist, populations of these birds are stable….and researchers from Scottish National Heritage lay the blame for this disastrous decline on the hedgehog. Four hedgehogs were introduced to South Uist in 1974 by a gardener, to control pests like slugs and snails. However, the hogs have been breeding like rabbits, feeding off the eggs of groundnesting birds, and over 5000 thousand of these small mammals are now living on the island. North Uist is not overrun by hedgehogs, which explains why it's bird populations are doing fine. The researchers think that a humane cull of the hedgehogs is the only way to save the South Uist birds.

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