Thursday, 4 August 2016

Raccoon, mongoose and cabbage among invasive species banned from UK

New EU regulation blacklists 37 non-native plant and animal species in a bid to tackle threats to native wildlife and economic losses

Tuesday 2 August 201614.24 BST Last modified on Wednesday 3 August 201612.16 BST

The north American raccoon, an Asian hornet and an American cabbage are among 37 invasive species that will be banned from being brought into the UK from Wednesday when a new EU regulation comes into effect.

The continent-wide rules now make it illegal to import, keep, breed or grow, transport, sell or use, or release into the environment without a permit the listed invasive, non-native plant and animal species. But the ban will no longer apply when then UK leaves the EU.

The 14 plants listed include the American skunk cabbage, which has invaded Scottish marshes and wiped out all of the native flora at one site in the New Forest, Hampshire. Curly waterweed, also on the list, has increased by 41% in 15 years in the UK, while floating pennywort can spread at a rate of 20cm per day.

The list of 23 banned animals contains the aggressive North American signal crayfish, which breeds faster and preys on the smaller native crayfish species; the Asian hornet, which is spreading rapidly across France and other parts of mainland Europe, and the raccoon. As many as 1 million are believed to have spread across Germany, threatening native wildlife and carrying parasitic diseases.

The named species have been assessed as being “of union concern” - posing such a high risk of invasion and damage within one or more EU member states that a co-ordinated, Europe-wide response is needed to limit their spread.

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