A POORLY baby hedgehog was used as a football by youngsters at a play area in Leominster.

The hoglet was rescued by a teenage boy who was passing by The Grange on Tuesday and saw the act take place.

The hedgehog was taken to a rescue centre but it was discovered it had a maggot infestation and had to be put down by a vet.

Sarah Cole from Leominster said: "I was called at 9pm on August 7 by a friend. Her teenage son had been on The Grange in Leominster and had witnessed some local boys kicking a small hedgehog, using it as a football.

"He shouted at them to stop and rushed in to rescue the little creature. The baby was crying and in obvious distress."

The boy's mum knew Sarah had connections with wildlife groups and brought the hoglet to her. She then took it to a rescue centre.

The hoglet had to be put to sleep the next morning as a maggot infestation called fly strike had led to a damaged jaw.

Sarah added: "The boys who carried out the attack should know they were being horrendously cruel and callous.

"They chose to add to the suffering of a sick little creature. Not only this, they were breaking the law by causing unnecessary suffering to a wild animal."

She said any person witnessing acts like this should call the police and report it to the Wildlife Crimes Officer as perpetrators will be prosecuted.

Sarah said: " Hedgehogs are rapidly declining in the UK and are becoming endangered.

"Rescues around the county are doing amazing work trying to help. Their task is made so much more difficult when thoughtless and cruel acts are carried out by those who should know better."