The Guardian reports they are cute and furry, and could become the UK’s next major non-native pest. Raccoon dogs, an exotic member of the fox family that is native to Japan, China and Siberia, are one of the most destructive invasive species at risk of becoming established in Britain, experts say.
A “horizon scanning” study funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs identified the raccoon dog and the raccoon as the only mammals on a list of 20 invasive species likely to reach UK shores and destroy native wildlife or bring disease.
The Daily Mail reports more than half of England’s badgers will be killed if the Government does not stop culling before the programme’s official end in 2026, campaign groups warned last night.
The Government confirmed yesterday that it will not issue new licences for culling badgers to tackle tuberculosis in cattle after 2022. Culling will eventually cease entirely when licences expire in 2026.
Since the controversial badger cull started in 2013, to control bovine tuberculosis, more than 140,000 badgers have been shot.
The BBC reports a pair of beavers have been reintroduced to Dorset as part of a nationwide trial.
The Dorset Wildlife Trust is monitoring a male and a female beaver in the west of the county. They are being observed by wildlife experts in a large freshwater habitat, with footage captured on night cameras. The species went extinct in the UK 400 years ago, during the 16th Century.
The petition, created by gamekeeper Edward Coles, received more than 12,700 signatures, thus sparking a response from Defra. However, it would need to attract more than 100,000 signatures to trigger a parliamentary debate.
The BBC reports when the pandemic hit last year, Thomas wanted to find a way to get outdoors and learn more about wildlife. Fast forward a year and the 14-year-old from Hampshire has discovered a love for watching badgers. Thomas observes the animals at his local woodland and has written a self-published book about his discoveries. Now he wants to share his love of wildlife with others.
The Telegraph and iNEWS report mutant grey squirrels, genetically modified to spread infertility genes, could be released into the wild to tackle the burgeoning population, the University of Edinburgh has said.
North American grey squirrels were imported to Britain in the mid-19th century by landowners, and their population has now grown to more than two million. Not only do they out-compete the native red squirrel, they also strip trees of their bark, causing a threat to woodlands, as well as preying on eggs and chicks.
The Daily Telegraph reports perhaps one of the last things one would expect to see when popping to the high street would be a beaver busily foraging materials for its dam. However, the Wildlife Trusts are planning the first in a wave of urban beaver releases, with a pair due to be transplanted to central Shrewsbury, and influential figures behind the “rewilding” plans say this is the beginning of a drive to get them in most towns and cities.
The Wildlife Trusts have identified a 12-hectare site in the centre of the large Shropshire town which is perfect to host the furry rodents. It is currently being prepared for their release next year.
The BBC reports a second bid to introduce lynx to a Northumberland forest is to be made two years after it was rejected. The Lynx UK Trust had wanted to release Eurasian wildcats into Kielder Forest but the government rejected the plan saying it lacked “depth”. The trust said it had addressed shortfalls in its bid which aims to save Kielder being “overrun” with deer. However, the National Sheep Association (NSA) said lynx would prey on “easy meals” such as sheep and red squirrels. Lynx became extinct in the UK in about AD700 because they were hunted for their fur.
The Independent reports a proposed amendment to delayed Environment Bill would afford UK’s embattled hedgehogs same level of protections as bats and badgers. It would require developers to look for hedgehogs on proposed sites and take action to reduce the impacts on them.
BBC News reports environment minister Lord Goldsmith says the damage grey squirrels and other invasive species do to the UK’s woodlands costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year. The bizarre-sounding plan is to lure grey squirrels into feeding boxes only they can access with little pots containing hazelnut spread. These would be spiked with an oral contraceptive.