ANIMAL welfare groups and vets will be forced to euthanise injured muntjac deer and grey squirrels under new EU rules introduced today. It is now illegal to nurse and return to the wild any members of the invasive species.
The RSPCA and other animal charities have said they will now “have no other option but to put them to sleep” thanks to the Invasive Alien Species order. The EU regulations are aimed at controlling “exotic” species that put native plants and wildlife at risk. Non-native grey squirrels are blamed for the decline in native reds and muntjac deer are accused of causing road accidents and damage to crops. An RSPCA spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed that the licences to release grey squirrels and muntjac back to the wild after rehabilitation are not being reissued.”
He said the new legislation “will still allow these species to be released in situ if they have been trapped accidentally unfortunately in certain situations where animals need veterinary care or to be hand-reared we will have no other option but to put them to sleep rather than rehabilitating and releasing them back into the wild.
“Vets and RSPCA staff who dedicate their lives to rehabilitating wildlife – along with animal-loving members of the public – will be upset we can no longer help those animals.”
The enforcement order requires for “effective management measures to be put in place for widely spread species, so that their impact on biodiversity, the related ecosystem services and […] human health or the economy are minimised”.
They have been interpreted and introduced into EU countries at different times.
Grey squirrels, native to North America, have been displacing red squirrels for decades due to their greater size and strength, while muntjac, long considered a pest, are among the most numerous deer across England and Wales.