Conservationists have launched a hedgehog hunt on a Scottish island after one of the spiny mammals was spotted for the first time.  

Scottish Government agency NatureScot has employed trappers to scour Barra in the Outer Hebrides for traces of the prickly creatures after a dead hedgehog was found on a road this month. 

Hedgehogs are not native to the Scottish islands and were introduced to South Uist in 1974. In the decades since, they have and spread across the islands by somehow navigating waterways, or being released from private collections. 

The small animals are blamed for causing significant harm to internationally important populations of ground nesting waders, by eating their eggs and disturbing nests.  

HeraldScotland:

Residents and visitors have been asked to report any sightings and help stop the invading species from gaining a foothold on the islands.  

A network of live catch traps  and camera traps has been set up to establish whether more hedgehogs are present on Barra.  

Two sniffer dogs owned by the trappers are also being used to detect the creatures. Any caught will be relocated and released in a safe location. 

Iain Macleod, NatureScot Operations Manager for Argyll & Outer Hebrides, said they do not know where the dead hedgehog came from.  

He said: “Following this initial report we are taking swift action to try and establish if other hedgehogs are present on Barra and what the scale of the problem might be. 

“It’s vitally important for the wader populations that these non-native animals don’t get a foothold on the island. We’d encourage local residents and visitors alike to keep an eye out and report any further sightings to us. 

“We recognise that many people love hedgehogs but in the wrong place they can be very damaging. It’s important to note that releasing mammals on islands can cause great harm to native wildlife and is treated as a serious wildlife crime.”