Super infuriating animals? The business of tackling unwelcome animals

hedgehog Hedgehogs have been targeted on the Western Isles after being blamed for feeding on wild birds' eggs

Related Stories

A project to eradicate black rats from a group of small uninhabited Scottish islands secured European Union funding this month.

The Shiant Seabird Recovery Project is not the first scheme to secure thousands of pounds to tackle unwelcome non-native species.

But how did these creatures get to some of the furthest flung corners of Scotland, why are they a pest and what is the price of dealing with them?

Meet what conservation charities and government agencies might consider to be Scotland's super infuriating animals.

Shiant Islands The Shiant Islands has an issue with the descendants of shipwreck survivors

Where?: The Shiants are a group of three small, uninhabited islands in the Minch. The isles between Lewis and Skye have been owned by the same family for three generations.

Rat It is not clear at this stage how many rats are on the Shiants

What is the threat?: Black rats, also known as the ships' rat.

The Shiants' population is descended from rats that swam ashore from shipwrecked boats in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

What is at risk?: Today, unknown numbers of the rats prey on the eggs and young of ground-nesting seabirds.

The islands support 10% of the UK's puffin population and are home to 7% of the UK's razorbills. It has been estimated that there are more than 150,000 seabirds on the Shiants.

Solution?: Poisoned bait has been assessed to be the most effective way of dealing with the rats and will start being laid in the near future.

Cost?: The Shiant Seabird Recovery Project is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Nicolson family, the islands' owners.

The rat eradication project will cost about £900,000 - Scottish Natural Heritage is providing £200,000 and the remainder will be raised from donations.

Canna phone box In the past, Canna's residents have had to call on the help of pest controllers to deal with rats

Where?: Canna, the most westerly of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides.

What is the threat?: Rabbits. Last year, National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which owns the island, estimated there were more than 16,000 rabbits on Canna.

Rabbit Some of Canna's rabbits were spared as they are prey for eagles

What is at risk?: The burrowing animals were blamed for causing a landslide that affected a main road on the isle in 2013. Rabbit digging has also damaged archaeological sites.

Solution?: A combination of trapping and shooting was done between January and March this year.

However, not all the rabbits were killed because they are source of food for eagles that nest on the island.

Canna previously had a problem with rats. Work to exterminate the animals was completed in 2008.

The animals were eating the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting seabirds, seriously affecting their population.

Pest controllers from New Zealand were brought in to deal with thousands of rats, using poison and traps.

The rodents first arrived on the island on ships about 100 years ago.

They had also posed a threat to Canna's rare wood mice, 130 of which were transferred to Edinburgh Zoo before the cull.

Cost?: The rabbit control measures cost NTS more than £5,000.

Isle of Harris Harris is one of the islands where mink have been targeted

Where?: The Western Isles, including Harris and the Uists.

What is the threat?: American mink. The mammals became established in the wild in Britain in the 1950s following numerous escapes and releases from fur farms.

American mink American mink escaped into the wild from fur farms

What is at risk?: Described as an "aggressive predator" by SNH, mink prey on ground-nesting and migratory birds.

In 2010, the animals were blamed for almost wiping out ground-nesting birds on Sandaig and the Sound of Sleat on Skye.

Solution?: The Hebridean Mink Project was started in 2001 and involves the trapping and killing of the animals.

Since 2007, 1,648 mink have been captured. Seven have been trapped so far this year.

SNH said the project is now in a two-year monitoring phase to locate and control the last mink.

Today's traps have technology that sends out a text alert to the project team when something is caught.

Cost?: Almost £4.5m from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2014.

SNH has contributed more than £3m towards the cost.

Another £1.4m came from other organisations, including £785,557 from a European Commission conservation projects fund, £230,198 from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, £150,000 from the former Scottish Executive, £103,039 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, £97,198 from the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust, £42,611 from RSPB Scotland and £42,379 from the Central Science Library.


Where?: The Uists in the Western Isles.

What is the threat?: Hedgehogs. The prickly creatures are not native to the Western Isles, but in 1974 seven were introduced to Daliburgh in South Uist to eat slugs.

South Uist Hedgehogs arrived on South Uist in the 1970s

By 1995 hedgehogs were common throughout South Uist and Benbecula, their numbers growing in part thanks to the lack of predators and not being run down on the isles' quiet roads.

What is at risk?: The hedgehogs eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds. From the 1970s, the numbers of the animals grew to several thousand.

In terms of the birds, research in 1983 suggested that were 17,000 pairs of waders, including 25% of the total UK breeding populations of both dunlin and ringed plover.

A repeat of the study in 1995 recorded a 64% decline in dunlins, 57% fall in ringed plover, 43% fewer snipe and a 40% reduction in redshank in South Uist and Benbecula. Hedgehogs were assessed to be the top cause for the declines.

Solution?: The Uist Wader Project was launched in 2001.

First hedgehogs were culled, but this was soon stopped and the Uist Hedgehog Rescue (UHR) was launched and started receiving funding to trap and relocate the animals to the Scottish mainland.

Since 2002, UHR has moved about 1,600 hedgehogs.

This year the main focus of the project is further research on predation on birds' nests.

So far in 2014, 28 hedgehogs have been removed from an RSPB reserve at Balranald, and another 75 from a trial removal in "a high density" 2 km area of South Uist.

Cost?: Total cost from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2014 of £2.1m.

This figure includes a contribution of more than £1.9m from SNH, £97,870 from RSPB Scotland and £20,000 from the former Scottish Executive.

Non-native species also have an economic impact with farming and forestry having the biggest annual cost, according to SNH.

The animals causing the harm include rats, rabbits, sika deer and worm-like nematodes that can damage potato crops.

In freshwater, American signal crayfish prey, which prey on young fish, and invasive Japanese knotweed that chokes out other plant life are estimated to cost the Scottish economy about £244m each year because of the damage they cause to angling and habitats.

More on This Story

Related Stories

BBC Highlands & Islands



17 °C 12 °C

Scotland Live

    Horse hurt 11:13:

    Police in the Scottish Borders are appealing for information after a horse was attacked in Hawick.

    The incident happened between Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 July in a field near the Trowknowes farm.

    Tense tie 11:09:

    Watch live hockey coverage of Scotland women's classification match against India at the Commonwealth Games.

    It's still 0-0 in the second half with fifth and sixth place in the standings being decided.

    Route reopens 10:56:

    Traffic Scotland tweets: #Fife #A92 is now *OPEN* at Cairnfield after a 2-car RTC. Traffic moving well with no delays

    Dog attack charge 10:51:

    A woman has been charged over a dog attack in Dundee which left a two-year-old girl in hospital.

    Business boost 10:46: John Beattie BBC Scotland

    tweets: Finding out about uplift in business in Glasgow some saying by factor of four

    John Beattie
    From earlier... 10:41:

    Click here to read more about the proposed sale of Aberdeen and Glasgow airports.

    Visit here for more on Aberdeen Royal Infirmary's recruitment drive.

    Waverley broadcast 10:30:

    Fred MacAulay is live from The Waverley paddle steamer on the River Clyde joined by Balamory favourite Miss Hoolie - actor Julie Wilson Nimmo plus music from Mercury-nominated Fife singer songwriter King Creosote.

    Eilidh Child won Glasgow 2014 silver at Hampden last night and dad Ronnie discusses what it's like to cheer on a loved one at the Games!

    Click here to listen from 10:30.

    Games boost 10:28:

    "I didn't expect it to be, in that way. I've been to an athletics track, but nothing the size of Hampden."

    Tom Turner

    Tom is one of about 1,000 young people from disadvantaged areas across the UK who have been given the chance to go to the Commonwealth Games, through the charities, StreetGames and Spirit of 2012.

    Read more.

    Jobs on call 10:22:

    A newly-formed telecoms firm in the Borders is aiming to have a workforce of 50 by the end of the year.

    TenTel, which is based at Ettrick Riverside in Selkirk, is due to start trading on Monday and already has 18 employees.

    Body found 10:13:

    The death of a person whose body was found in Inverclyde is being treated as suspicious, police have said.

    Clune Park Street

    The body was found in a property in Clune Park Street, Port Glasgow, at about 20:30 on Thursday.

    Police Scotland said a post mortem examination would be carried out to establish how the person died.

    Today's outlook 10:04: BBC Scotland Weather

    After some rain this morning, it will be a brighter afternoon.

    Sunshine and showers to come with some heavy ones at times, possibly thundery, however some places will escape dry and sunny.

    Get the full weather details here.

    Airport sale 09:59:

    Aberdeen and Glasgow airports have been put up for sale.

    Aberdeen Airport

    Their owner, Heathrow Airport Holdings, is also putting Southampton airport on the market and says it's hopeful of concluding a sale by the end of the year.

    New School closures rules 09:54:

    New rules on school closures have come into force across Scotland.

    Local authorities will be required to carry out more rigorous consultation, especially before shutting rural schools.

    Hospital recruits 09:46:

    NHS Grampian says "significant progress" has been made in recruiting more staff to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary's emergency department.

    Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

    It follows a warning that staff shortages could endanger patient safety.

    The board of NHS Grampian will this morning be told that two new consultants have been appointed in A&E.

    Driver sought 09:39:

    Police are trying to trace the driver of an orange Mitsubishi after a 12-year-old boy was struck while cycling in southern Scotland.

    The collision occurred on back roads near Kirkbean at about 15:00 on Thursday.


    The lawn bowls is well under way at Kelvingrove and netball and table tennis is coming up soon on day nine of Glasgow 2014.

    Follow BBC Sport's live coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

    Ferry off 09:23:

    @BBCTravelScot tweets: Northlink ferries All scheduled sailings fM.V Helliar have been cancelled until further notice. M.V Hildasay will operate a temp timetable

    Tributes for Ireland 09:16:

    Tributes have been paid to Scottish actor Kenny Ireland, who died aged 68 on Thursday.

    Kenny Ireland

    Ireland was best known for his role in TV comedy Benidorm.

    Front pages 09:11:

    More medals, gender inequality and a false alarm over Ebola. Today's Scottish newspaper review.

    Front pages
    Medal hopes 09:06:

    @ToomJourno tweets: .@BBCGaryR Silver medallist #EilidhChild says she's hoping for more medals at upcoming European Championships

    Gary Robertson with Eilidh Child
    The back pages 09:00:

    There's been more reaction to Celtic, Aberdeen and St Johnstone's European defeats in this morning's newspapers.

    Read Friday's Scottish gossip.

    Ebola update 08:59:

    Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland about how Scotland is dealing with any potential Ebola cases, Dr Colin Ramsay, of Health Protection Scotland, said: "There's been no programme of actively screening athletes simply because of the Commonwealth Games.

    "The situation is that if someone presents with symptoms suggestive of the possibility of Ebola virus infection and who has come from a country affected by the current outbreak - and that's Sierra Leone and Guinea and Liberia - they would be investigated accordingly and that would involve managing them with a set of standard precautions."

    RBS claims 08:54:

    Royal Bank of Scotland has warned Scottish independence could have a "material adverse effect" on its business.

    The Edinburgh-based bank, 80% owned by the taxpayer, said a "Yes" vote in the 18 September referendum could cause uncertainty and hit credit ratings.

    More medal hopes... 08:47:

    After the heroics of Eilidh Child, Alex Gladkov, Daniel Keatings and Daniel Purvis yesterday, Scotland have medal hopes in today's athletics, gymnastics and lawn bowls at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

    Bowler Darren Burnett contests the gold medal match in the men's singles against Canada's Ryan Bester and Scotland's fours team will also be competing for gold medal when they take on England.

    Adam Cox, Frank Baines, Keatings and Purvis are in gymnastics action and Lynsey Sharp goes in the final of the 800m at Hampden this evening.

    Read our day nine preview.

    Travel news 08:43:

    @BBCTravelScot tweets: Police dealing with RTC on the A92 Ladybank. Road in Fife..there's a closure in place at the Northerly junction to Ladybank from A92

    Euro woes 08:36:

    Last night was a disappointing one for Scotland's Europa League representatives in the third qualifying round first leg.

    Aberdeen defender Shay Logan and St Johnstone defender Frazer Wright

    Aberdeen went down 2-0 against Real Sociedad in Spain while St Johnstone were 2-1 losers at home to Spartak Trnava. Both Scottish Premiership sides face an uphill task to reach the play-off round.

    Morning call 08:33:

    Cathy MacDonald (on today's Morning Call) asks: Do we really need alcohol on holiday flights, or does it mark the start of our bad reputation abroad?

    Also on the programme: Whose responsibility is it to look after you in your later years?

    Call 0500 92 95 00; text 80295; or email

    Listen on Radio Scotland from 08:50.

    Clyde cone 08:07:

    Glasgow 2014 mascot Clyde has been paying tribute to the city's most famous statue.


    Michael Jackson-Matthews took this picture outside the Glasgow Victoria Infirmary.

    We'd love you to email us any images you have taken in and around the Games.

    Games heroes 07:54:

    Missed any of the action from Day Eight at Glasgow 2014? We have a video catch-up of all the best bits.

    Eilidh Child
    On the Fringe 07:44:

    "There's a six-and-a-half-foot drag queen in the ladies' bathroom. In leopard skin dress and towering platforms, he apologises but he's onstage any minute and the ladies is much closer than the gents."

    Drag queen

    Our arts correspondent Pauline McLean is looking ahead to the Edinburgh Fringe.

    Avoid or be patient

    @trafficscotland tweets: Hotspot Map for August 1st - @GamesTravel2014 Day 9 Commonwealth Games - check busy areas here :)

    Glasgow map

    There's more detail in the Traffic Scotland website.

    Ebola test negative 07:34:

    An athlete has been tested for Ebola and cleared at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, organisers have confirmed.

    Coloured transmission electron micro graph of a single Ebola virus, the cause of Ebola fever

    A spokesman for Glasgow 2014 said the competitor was given tests for a number of conditions after he fell ill last week and was admitted to hospital.

    Sierra Leone road cyclist Moses Sesay, 32, competed in his event, the men's individual time trial, on Thursday.

    Sunshine and showers 07:33:

    @BBCScotWeather tweets: Rain moving into south this morning, clearing northwards. Then a day of sunshine & heavy showers. N Isles dry til eve. Highs of 16 to 19C.JR

    School closures 07:27:

    New rules on school closures have come into force across Scotland.


    Learning minister Alasdair Allan said they would provide "important safeguards" for rural communities.

    Local authorities will be required to carry out more rigorous consultation, especially before shutting rural schools

    Good morning Sandy Murray BBC Scotland news

    Welcome to BBC Scotland's live coverage of news, sport, travel and weather on 1 August.

    I know, August already.

    We'll have reports from across the country, including all the best action from Glasgow 2014.



Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Abandoned stadiumShow's over...

    ...but what happens next? BBC Culture takes a look at what happens to abandoned stadiums


  • A woman sits on a bed in a scene from Gustav Deutsch's latest film about Edward Hopper's paintingsTalking Movies Watch

    How film-maker Gustav Deutsch brought Edward Hopper’s paintings to life

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.