A TEAM of scientists are negotiating the future of a group of hedgehogs living on death row.

Representatives from St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, in Haddenham, are in talks with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in a bid to prove the prickly creatures can be removed from the island of North Uist and be successfully rehomed – despite the SNH arguing otherwise.

Since April, hospital staff have helped relocate 160 hedgehogs, which would otherwise have been captured and killed by lethal injection, Les Stocker, founder of St Tiggywinkles, said: "We have proved it can be done successfully. Scottish Natural Heritage has captured 60 hedgehogs and received a lot of flack in the process because it has spent a lot of money."

Controversy has surrounded whether or not the hedgehogs benefited from being rehomed with animal welfare groups and the SNH disagreeing on their chances of survival.

Mr Stocker said he expected at least an 80 per cent success rate.

However, Sarah Roe, from the SNH, said research showed a large number of hedgehogs died within six weeks of being moved.

She added: "We asked the animal welfare groups to come up with a plan of how they were going to move the hedgehogs from the island to the mainland but there were some welfare issues.

"It's very easy to take an emotional stance and say the hedgehogs should be saved but we feel letting them suffer for six weeks before dying is less humane."

During the summer the island played host to a bizarre game of hide and seek as animal welfare groups competed against trappers in search of the creatures.

It all started when Scottish National Heritage announced plans for a mass cull of the animals amid fears they were eating the eggs of the island's wading birds, threatening their population.

Islanders were even encouraged to join in with a £5 reward on offer for every hedgehog found.