Non-native Species

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether Natural England plans to implement new management plans under the the invasive alien species regulation for (a) Sciurus carolinensis and (b) Ondatra zibethicus.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The government will be introducing the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order to implement the EU Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation (EU1143/2014). Our enforcement strategy has been designed to combat the negative effects of invasive non-native species that are listed as ‘of union concern’. Both grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) are on this list.

The enforcement strategy will prohibit a number of actions relating to listed species, including their importation, keeping, and release into the environment. These restrictions are being put in place to manage the risk that these species pose to the environment, economy and human health.

The Forestry Commission leads on policy and action on the grey squirrel in England, under the Grey Squirrel Action Plan, which fulfils many of the functions of a management plan. This includes Countryside Stewardship funding for landowners. Defra, in partnership with the United Kingdom Squirrel Alliance (UKSA), is also providing funding for work by the Animal and Plant Health Agency for the development of a fertility control method for grey squirrels. This research, now in its third year, continues to show promise as one potentially effective method to control grey squirrel numbers in the longer term.

The muskrat is not currently present in this country meaning we have no plans to develop a management plan. The import of the muskrat is prohibited and it would be eradicated if detected.

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