- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

LONDON (AP) — Fast food just became hedgehog-friendly.

McDonald’s Corp. said yesterday it had redesigned the cups for its McFlurry dessert so that they no longer posed a danger to the spiky woodland creatures.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has campaigned for years against the containers, saying hedgehogs had died while trying to eat leftover ice cream from discarded cups. Campaigners said the opening in the lid was large enough for hedgehogs to stick their heads inside, but not to get them out again, and that animals not rescued by passers-by had died of starvation.

McDonald’s U.K. said that after “significant research and testing,” it designed a McFlurry cup with a smaller opening. McDonald’s began deliveries of the new lids to restaurants in Britain last week.

“The smaller aperture of the lid has been designed to prevent hedgehogs from entering the McFlurry container in the unfortunate incidence that a lid is littered and is then accessible to wildlife,” the company said.

Fay Vass, chief executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said the change was “excellent, if long overdue news.”

She said the new cups meant “many hedgehog lives will be saved.”

Only McDonald’s in the U.K. will receive the new McFlurry tops, a spokesman said yesterday.

There is no wild hedgehog population in the United States, according to the International Hedgehog Association, a Divide, Colo., organization.

Bryan Smith, a founding member of the organization, said hedgehogs are as common in England as squirrels are in the United States.

“They live in people’s back yards, dig in the gardens,” he said. “A lot of people are passionate about them.”

Tunnels have been built under some roads for hedgehogs to safely travel in Britain, though it’s not clear how hedgehogs know how to use them. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has lobbied the public to be aware of tin cans, plastic rings and litter that could harm hedgehogs, Mr. Smith said.

“Human activity is getting in the way and a lot of hedgehogs are getting killed or injured as a result,” Mr. Smith said. “So there’s been quite a campaign over the last several years in England. They’re very fervent about protecting hedgehogs.”

Washington Times reporter Jen Haberkorn contributed to this report.

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