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New laws restricting Bucks wildlife hospital

They are no longer allowed to release certain species.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:52am 4th March 2020. 4-minute read.

New laws restricting Bucks wildlife hospital

A Buckinghamshire wildlife hospital is now restricted by new laws.

Tiggywinkles in Haddenham is asking people for their help after the government introduce new regulation. 

The Invasive Alien Species Order 2019 is a EU regulation that restricts the release of some animals, and also the growth of certain plants. 

There are lots of species on the list, but Tiggywinkles are particularly concerned about grey squirrels and muntjac deer as those are local to the area.

It is now illegal for wildlife hospitals to release animals on the list into the wild, which means the amount of help they can provide is limited. 

Steve Smith is a vet at the Bucks wildlife hospital:

"We treat all wild animals, we don't discriminate whatever species comes to us we treat them all. Implementing this order, which because its legislation we have no choice but to follow puts us in a very difficult spot. We can't do the job that we want to do and the job that the public support us to do.

"As it currently stands if people do bring them into us we will treat them. We wont euthanase them because they are part of the invasive species list, but we do then have to house them indefinitely. 

"The problem we have is if we keep them here indefinitely soon our resources will be full and our environment will be full."

As a result, hospitals like Tiggywinkles are having to restrict the number of grey squirrels and muntjac deer they take in. 

The regulation was brought in to combat animals and plants that may impact local environment and native species. 

However, the Bucks wildlife hospital say the impact the animals they release is minimal.

Tiggy Winkles, and other wildlife organisations, are urging people to send a letter to their local MP and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice to try and change the law. 

The letter reads as follows:

*Your Name*

*Your Address*

 Dear *Local MP / Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affair*

I am writing to you to share my concerns about the recently implemented EU Regulation on ‘Invasive Alien Species’, which affects muntjac deer and grey squirrels.

I urge Defra to reconsider the decision to revoke release licences for these species. The number of muntjac deer and grey squirrels released from rescue organisations is completely insignificant compared with the overall populations and will certainly not contribute to the supposed ‘threat to forestry or existing populations of red squirrels’.

Allowing wildlife centres to release a very small number of these rehabilitated individuals will have no impact on the numbers in the wild. However, implementing this regulation will have a massive emotional and traumatic effect on the wildlife centre staff and on the members of the public who find sick, injured or orphaned grey squirrels and muntjac deer.

The Government is stating that the animals do not have to be euthanased but can be retained in captivity. I am not sure there are many rescue centres that can cope with housing wild squirrels and muntjac in the numbers required for the time required. Establishments would very rapidly become full or overrun, creating welfare issues and would ultimately lead to the choice between refusal to admit the casualty into the wildlife centre, or inevitable euthanasia due to lack of available space and resources. Does this not seem excessive given that the release of very small numbers is completely insignificant?

I strongly urge you to reinstate the licences to release grey squirrels and muntjac deer so that wildlife rescue centres can continue doing the good work they do.

Yours faithfully

Meanwhile, people are being asked to consider the urgency of an animals condition before bringing them to the hospital.  


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