On February 3 2018, police in Vic-En-Bigorre, Southwestern France, received calls about a video posted on social media of a hedgehog being abused .
In the video, which has since been deleted, two people can be clearly seen torturing a hedgehog found on the side of the road. One of the individuals lights a fire on the back of the poor animal after which it attempted to escape but was quickly caught again. They then kicked it against a wall and played with it as if it were a ball.
It was at this point that the two individuals got out a petrol can and started to cover the hedgehog in gasoline before burning it alive. Throughout the video, they can be seen in a state of “euphoria and enjoyment”, as the police in charge of the investigation reported after seeing the video on social media.
The people responsible have since been identified by the police and will soon appear in front of the public prosecutor.
The video caused outrage on social media with conversations about it going viral. French charity 30 Million D’Amis said on their Twitter page:
Brutality knows no limit! A poor hedgehog, hit, covered in gasoline and burned alive by two young individuals. #Justice
Three animal organisations, ASPAS Nature, 30 Million D’Amis and the SPA (French equivalent of the RSPCA or ASPCA) have filed a complaint. However, the people responsible cannot be accused of “animal cruelty” as French penal code only accepts domestic, tamed or animals in captivity for this.
The hedgehog is listed as a protected animal as of April 23 2007 (OJ 10/05/2007), adding to the list of protected earth mammals. It is forbidden to mutilate, hurt, move or naturalize them.
If someone were to violate this rule, the penalty could be two years in prison and a $185,000 fine.
30 Million D’Amis also pointed out that around two million hedgehogs are killed each year in the country, reducing their population in France by 70% over the past 20 years.
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