Western Isles hedgehog scheme seeks dog handler

Image caption,
The project traps hedgehogs and relocates them on the mainland

A dog handler is being sought for a project that traps hedgehogs on the Western Isles and relocates them on mainland Scotland.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is leading the scheme on North Uist and Benbecula.

Hedgehogs are not a native species on the islands and have been blamed for preying on the nests of wading birds.

Dogs are used to help sniff out hedgehogs and find clues as to their whereabouts.

The mammals are then put in a carrier or fitted with radio tags so they can be tracked and trapped later.

Health checks

SNH said the dog handler would work closely with animal welfare officers.

Dogs were used earlier in the project and have been brought back in because of their ability in finding evidence of hedgehogs.

Hundreds of traps have been set on North Uist and Benbecula since the project started about six years ago.

After health checks, hedgehogs are released on the mainland.

A cull of hedgehogs was originally started to protect wading birds which were declining in numbers.

SNH had previously said hedgehogs would not survive relocation. However, animal welfare campaigners began their own programme of trapping and transporting the hedgehogs.

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