They are adorable and furry, and could turn into the UK’s upcoming significant non-native pest.
Raccoon puppies, an unique member of the fox household that is native to Japan, China and Siberia, are a single of the most destructive invasive species at chance of getting to be established in Britain, authorities say.
A “horizon scanning” study funded by the Office of Surroundings, Food items and Rural Affairs determined the raccoon pet dog and the raccoon as the only mammals on a listing of 20 invasive species very likely to attain United kingdom shores and demolish native wildlife or provide condition.
Raccoon puppies were being released into the old Soviet Union in the mid-20th century, together with in Baltic states this sort of as Latvia. Historically farmed for fur, raccoon canines escaped and have spread quickly via continental Europe in modern a long time, colonising northern European nations around the world these kinds of as Finland, Sweden and Denmark, irrespective of eradication attempts, and currently being sighted in France, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.
The animals have been saved in Britain as exotic pets but given that 2019 it has been illegal to get or provide a person. Final calendar year, a wild raccoon canine was captured and killed in Wales. This calendar year, a raccoon puppy has been sighted in Lincolnshire and another animal was stolen from a back yard enclosure in Oldham. The animals are renowned as the escapologists of the mammal globe.
According to the Mammal Culture, which is contacting on people to report any sightings of the animals, the omnivorous species could pose a danger to exceptional native species like amphibians, modest mammals and floor-nesting birds. Raccoon canine can also transmit a variety of disorders to individuals.
Dr Stephanie Wray, the chair of the Mammal Modern society, mentioned: “There are a modest range of sightings all over Britain just about every year. Fortunately, these have been sightings of solitary animals so considerably, but wild animal populations can mature remarkably rapidly, and the raccoon canine is a really adaptable animal which can breed immediately and survive on a extensive range of foodstuff.
“We will need to be aware of their probable effects on our native species and report any this kind of sightings as soon as achievable. You only have to appear at the decimation of drinking water vole numbers, which ended up already having difficulties with habitat reduction in advance of predation by invasive American mink, to see the damage which can be done around a reasonably limited interval of time.”
Raccoon canines are labeled as an invasive non-native species, which are thought of one particular of the key threats to biodiversity.
Even though most non-indigenous species cause few difficulties if they become set up in Britain, concerning 10% and 15% are categorised as problematic since they threaten native wildlife or bring sickness. In accordance to the authorities, invasive non-native species like Japanese knotweed and the Asian hornet charge the economy £1.8bn just about every yr.