Secret World Wildlife Rescue near Burnham-On-Sea has this week joined forces with other national animal rescue organisations in opposing a ban on the release of non-indigenous species.
The Invasive Alien Species Order – EU Regulation 1143/2014 – is set to come into force in England on 28th March and will prevent animal welfare organisations from keeping and releasing non-indigenous animal species in the UK such as grey squirrels or muntjac deer.
It means charities and organisations such as Secret World will have to euthanise all non-indigenous animals that they admit, even if the animal is expected to make a full recovery after treatment.
The new regulation will reverse the current licensing laws enforced by Natural England. The licences, which all animal rescue centres must hold, allow for non-indigenous species to be kept and released in areas of England where they pose no threat to native animals.
Pauline Kidner, founder of Secret World, pictured, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We have been rescuing and rehabilitating poorly wildlife for over 25 years and have always maintained an ethos of helping any animal that needs it, providing we can give them a strong chance of survival.”
“The current licensing system works perfectly well and ensures all animal rescue organisations and vets work within a regulated remit. What we can do now is tightly controlled – as it should be. There is absolutely no need to reverse this.”
“We oppose this ban for several reasons, but mainly because the consequences could be devastating for many animals. I fear that with this ban, more people will take it upon themselves to care for injured animals such as grey squirrels, rather than sending them to us because they know they will be put down.”
“This will seriously restrict very poorly animals from receiving the professional help they need.”
It’s believed that current regulations are being revoked to increase the populations of native species such as red squirrels, but Secret World believe it will not have the desired impact.
Pauline added: “The numbers which are cared for by wildlife centres like us are insignificant to the population of these species.”
“Changing the law to such an extreme is not a silver bullet to increase the number of red squirrels. The reality is that even if we killed every grey squirrel, we no longer have the exact habitat conditions for the reds to make a resurgence.”
Among the list of names opposing the ban is Simon Cowell, CEO of The Wildlife Aid Foundation and Dave Risley, Director of The Folly Wildlife Rescue Trust.
London-based Urban Squirrels, which specialises in rescuing injured grey squirrels, has started a Government petition opposing the new regulation. It has over 30,000 signatures currently.
You can sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.