Squirrels under threat warns Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital

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By James Wynn

Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital has said that new legislation will force them to euthanise injured grey squirrels.

Due to new EU regulation, the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order, which has been upheld by the UK government after Brexit, the hospital cannot allow grey squirrels to be released into the wild after treatment, as they are non-native.

The issue also affects Muntjac deer, which were introduced into the UK from China in the 20th century.

Releasing such animals has been an offence since the introduction of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Rescue centres could apply for a licence to do so, but this is no longer the case.

The Wildlife Hospital said that it has no room to keep the animals in captivity, meaning it has no choice but to kill them humanely.

“We’re having to euthanise them for just being what they are and it’s not fair,” Harriet Childs, a team leader at the hospital in Kibworth, told the BBC.

“We had to do one on Sunday and it’s a bit raw still.

“We take in over 5,000 [injured animals] in a year, to risk that by disobeying the licence wouldn’t be good on our part.”

When approached for further comment by the Leicestershire Press, the hospital refused to discuss the matter further.

They did, however, state that they are discouraging the public from taking injured squirrels into their premises.

The RSPCA said in a statement that it was “extremely disappointed” that licences were not being reissued.

“It will result in the needless destruction of animals,” it said.

 

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