The Uist Hedgehog Rescue (UHR) coalition – consisting of Advocates for Animals, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue and International Animal Rescue (IAR) – was formed to work together to campaign against the killing of hedgehogs on the Outer Hebrides islands of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist, and to rescue and relocate these hedgehogs to the Scottish mainland.

A hedgehog in the wild on Uist.

A few hedgehogs were introduced onto the islands in 1974 to help control slugs and snails in an islander’s garden but with no natural predators, numbers soon increased to several thousand. The hedgehogs fed on the eggs of internationally important populations of wading birds that breed on the islands, and in 2003, in an attempt to improve the breeding success of the birds, the Uist Wader Project (UWP), consisting of Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Executive and RSPB Scotland, began killing hedgehogs on the islands.

Translocation of hedgehogs was considered as an option by the UWP, but rejected due to concerns that translocated animals would starve. Scientific studies however, suggested otherwise.

In order to save as many healthy wild animals as possible, UHR rescued and relocated hedgehogs from the islands.

After a successful and high-profile campaign by UHR - with the support of a number of celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Brian May, Dame Jane Goodall, Virginia McKenna, Carla Lane and Jenny Seagrove, and leading animal and conservation organisations such as International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Jane Goodall Institute – February 2007 saw SNH announce that it was to end the hedgehog cull in favour of a trial translocation of hedgehogs to the mainland.

UHR began working with UWP, who handed over all the hedgehogs it caught to be cared for on the island before being taken to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue on the mainland and then released into suitable sites in Scotland.

Since the project's inception in 2001 almost 2,500 hedgehogs have been relocated.

Hedgehog being rescued on Uist.  Rescued hedgehog on Uist being checked by vet nurse.  Hedgehog in rescue centre on Uist.