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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 11522, tabled on 3 February 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will amend the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 to permit the licensing of vet practices and wildlife hospitals to release grey squirrels in areas where they pose no risk to native squirrel populations.

Answered on

10 February 2020

Releasing grey squirrels back into the environment, even in areas away from red squirrels, would encourage a wide range of further negative impacts associated with this species towards other native species, forestry assets and national parks.

The release of grey squirrels can only be allowed as a management measure under the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 if it contributes to the population control, eradication or containment of the species. The Government will, therefore, not be updating this Order to permit the release of grey squirrels by veterinary practices or wildlife hospitals. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not allow grey squirrels to be kept or released. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order, which came into effect on 1 December 2019, thus brought England in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Any grey squirrel that requires medical attention can be taken to a licensed facility where it can remain for the rest of its natural life.