The Details In November 2017, two men were arrested in Etrechy, a French town located in the Essonne region, just south of Paris. They were transporting 13 small hedgehogs in the back of their vehicle. These hedgehogs had been hunted by the men, who used a specially trained spaniel to catch them. Their motive? They wanted to eat them.However, in France, the hedgehog is a protected species, similar to the way swans are protected in the UK. The two men were consequently sentenced to 4 months in prison. In court, one of the defendants, Jean, tried to defend himself by saying there was no cruelty in the act. The man in his 30's was from the travelling community and attended the court hearing alone as his accomplice decided not to attend. Apparently, this act of storing 13 small defenseless animals in a bin in the back of his car was not worth attending the hearing.1. A terrible excuse: 'They were to be eaten for a festive meal, it would have made the older people very happy, it's a tradition for them', explained the man who works as a groundskeeper. This was the reason Jean and his friend, accompanied by their spaniel, went to hunt the hedgehogs. After they'd captured these animals, they drove back to their town which is located just south of Paris.2. A rookie error: Unfortunately for them, they made a rookie error. After failing to indicate when changing lanes, the police stopped the car and were immediately alerted to small crying noises coming from the back of the car. Fortunately, the little balls of thorns were released into a nearby forest. The defendant explained that he would only eat 3 or 4 of hedgehogs. This excuse was not accepted by the prosecuting lawyer who stated that, if he had hunted 13 hedgehogs, it was because he intended to eat them all. 3. A serious offence: The case was taken very seriously by the French authorities. Several studies show that two thirds of hedgehogs could disappear from France in the next 20 years or so. By 2050, they could totally disappear. Here in the UK, this situation is taken incredibly serious as now, we only have 2 million hedgehogs compared to 35 million, 100 years ago. To help these poor little animals, 800 specialist animal centres have been set up since then.