Debating Room - McFun - For Sale - Search - What's New? - Mailing List
08/01/02 . by Unknown . South African Press Association . London
McDonald's Kills Hedgehogs
US fast food chain McDonald's was facing a prickly public relations situation on Tuesday over accusations from a British animal welfare group that its ice-cream cartons have caused the deaths of scores of hedgehogs.
The spikey animals were being drawn to the tubs, lured by the wafting scent of ice-cream, only to be trapped in the containers by their prickly spines, according to the animal groups.
Unable to remove their snouts from the pots, the hedgehogs face death by suffocation or starvation.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) has led an 18-month campaign to draw attention to the plight of the prickly insectivores, but a spokesperson for the group said the US multinational had refused to change its packaging.
"We have sent McDonald's six letters all together and made numerous phone calls to ask them to change the packaging of their McFlurry ice-cream carton, but they finally said they would not change the lid," said Anne Jenkins, a spokesperson for the BHPS.
The group says it has received around 40 reports of hedgehogs found dead or dying, trapped in the ice-cream tubs, a figure which Jenkins says scarcely reflects the likely true number of hedgehog casualties.
"Our last chance is for people to be aware of the damage caused to our wildlife, and take their litter home," she pleaded.
McDonald's has advised its customers to put the contentious containers safely in trash cans.
Sapa - AFP
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
Help Hedgehogs, McDonald's Told
GREEN campaigners urged McDonald's yesterday to redesign its McFlurry ice cream carton after a spate of reports of hedgehogs being found dead or dying with their heads stuck in the containers.
Hedgehogs are attracted to the cartons by the smell of the remaining ice cream. However, once they have stuck their heads through the hole in the dome-shaped lids, their prickles prevent them getting out again, say conservationists.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which has 11,000 members and is based in Ludlow, Shropshire, said it had had up to 50 calls from members reporting dead or dying hedgehogs being found in the past 18 months.
Fay Vass, chief administrative officer of the society, said: "These are just the ones that have been reported to us so there are likely to be more.
"It's quite a nasty, gruesome death, really. Ideally we want McDonald's to change the packaging so it poses little harm to wildlife but though they said they would think about it a lot they have said they have no plans to change the lid in question.
"We would like to appeal to people to take their litter home and dispose of it properly. It only takes a couple of minutes to pop rubbish in a bag or find the nearest dustbin and it prevents a lot of unnecessary suffering."
The society also asked members, moved to write to McDonald's asking for the carton to be changed, to first send the letters to its headquarters so they can be counted and forwarded to the fast-food firm.
A spokesman from McDonald's said: "We have taken this issue seriously and asked our suppliers to investigate the matter. A suitable alternative solution has not yet been found, however we are currently reviewing this.
"We would like to take this opportunity to remind customers to dispose of all packaging thoughtfully and in the appropriate manner."
The number of live hedgehogs in Britain is unclear, though the population was estimated at a healthy 1.5 million in 1995, despite the species being notoriously accident-prone.
A survey in progress by the Mammals Trust intends to estimate the number of live hedgehogs in an area by the number found dead on the roads.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society
Please write to McDonald's encouraging them to change their packaging and save hedgehogs
McDonald's Restaurants Ltd.