First four hedgehogs die in Scottish cull but campaigners rescue 31

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The first hedgehogs were "humanely dispatched" yesterday on the second night of the controversial cull in the Outer Hebrides.

The first hedgehogs were "humanely dispatched" yesterday on the second night of the controversial cull in the Outer Hebrides.

Four were killed by lethal injection after a search of 60 acres of croftland on North Uist by a team from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) using spotlamps.

Uist Hedgehog Rescue, a coalition of animal welfare groups, said it had rescued 31 hedgehogs for relocation on the mainland. Nineteen had been handed in by islanders after a £5 reward had been offered for every live hedgehog taken to a collection point.

Some 5,000 hedgehogs face extermination because they are eating the eggs of snipe, redshank and lapwing.

An SNH spokesman said: "On Monday we searched 100 acres which we hoped was largely hedgehog free. We were not surprised when we did not find any. Last night we turned our attention to a site where we knew there were hedgehogs."

The first phase of the cull will focus on North Uist, where there are about 200 hedgehogs. But the main population is on Benbecula and South Uist. Dogs will be drafted in to find hedgehog dens.

This year's cull will run to the end of May, when hedgehogs give birth, but the extermination programme is expected to take several years.

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