Monday, 7 April 2003
Deception by SNH exposed in the killing fields of the Uists and Benbecula
Tonight will see the culmination of several months of dispute between SNH
(Scottish Natural Heritage) and UHR (Uist Hedgehog Rescue) as the needless
slaughter of 5,000 hedgehogs gets underway on the islands of Uists and
Whilst SNH begins its deadly task, dedicated volunteers from UHR will be
striving to rescue and relocate as many of these hapless creatures as
UHR, a coalition of animal welfare groups, hedgehog experts, wildlife
rehabilitators and scientists, was formed to speak out in opposition to the
proposed 'cull' and with the intention of working with SNH to find a humane,
non-lethal solution. UHR has never disputed the requirement to remove the
hedgehogs nor the importance of protecting the internationally important
populations of wader birds on the islands.
Spurious claims are now being made by SNH employees that the UHR operation
is placing the hedgehogs in danger and that they will become "diseased and
die" if relocated. This is vindictive scaremongering on the part of SNH in a
desperate bid to salvage its now tarnished reputation in the face of
continuing media interest and public criticism.
In justifying its killing policy, SNH has consistently quoted from a
scientific paper by respected scientist, Dr Patrick Doncaster, and refused
to accept that it has little relevance to the situation in the Uists. SNH
claim it proves that about half of the relocated hedgehogs will survive. The
author, Dr Doncaster, has now confirmed to UHR that his paper is of little
relevance to the Uists and that the survival rate is more likely to be
SNH has also claimed that the hedgehogs on the islands are parasite free and
will die once
relocated to the mainland - yet another inaccuracy. UHR analysis has shown
that the hedgehogs on the islands carry the same parasites that would be
expected in a normal mainland hedgehog population and would therefore be no
more vulnerable once relocated.
In a further sign of desperation, SNH has also now started to claim that it
has the backing of all the Scottish political parties. However, when UHR
contacted their head offices this morning, the key political parties were
astonished to learn of this claim.
It is deeply saddening to the groups involved in UHR, including the numerous
wildlife experts, that certain individuals within SNH have succeeded in
tarnishing the reputation of their once-respected body. The shameless
behaviour of SNH is now being reported worldwide.
It seems that SNH is so hell bent on killing these healthy hedgehogs that it
is afraid of losing face. Sadly, the deception tactics and comments like
those made today by SNH spokesperson, George Anderson, that they are "raring
to go" with the killing will dismay a very large section of the Scottish
public who have no wish to be associated with this mindless slaughter of
Let sanity prevail.
- ENDS -
For further information please contact Advocates for Animals' office on 0131
Uist Hedgehog Rescue (UHR) consists of: Advocates for Animals, the British
Hedgehog Preservation Society, Hessilhead Animal Rescue Centre,
International Animal Rescue, the Mammals Society ans St Tiggywinkles