Hedgehog barbeque leaves sour taste

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The Independent Online
Animal-welfare campaigners are feeling prickly about the prospect of a hedgehog-eating festival arranged by Gypsies. For pounds 12.50 members of the public are invited to the open-air Romany barbeque, where they can savour the gourmet Gypsy recipe for roast hedgehog marinated in honey.

Gypsy leader Bartley Gorman fears the traditional Gypsy dish has fallen by the wayside and is selling tickets for the clay-baked furze-pig festival, which is being held at Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, on 5 July, in an effort to revive the delicacy.

But if the Hedgehog Preservation Society has its way, Mr Gorman will fail to get the event off the ground.

Adrian Cole, founder of the society, is launching a campaign, backed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, to ban the barbeque. "It is disgusting and deplorable that human beings will stoop so low as to go around purposefully killing a native wild animal like the hedgehog," he said yesterday. "They are on the decline already thanks to man grubbing up all their hedges and building motorways and other things over their natural habitats."

Elaine Drewery, who runs a hedgehog sanctuary from the village post office in Authorpe, near Louth, Lincolnshire, said: "It's ... tragic that the pounds 12.50 they are charging to eat barbecued hedgehogs is what it costs us on average to treat injured hedgehogs in our wildlife hospital and return them, fully restored, to the wild, sometimes after months of treatment."

Mr Gorman, a former bare-knuckle fighter from Wood Lane, Uttoxeter, retorted: "What about all the rabbits and pigeons that find their way on to our tables, even in restaurants?

"I don't see why there should be so much fuss, particularly when you see hundreds of hedgehogs killed on our roads every year and no one bats an eyelid."