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Expert Reaction: New order to exterminate sick grey squirrels and muntjac deer

Posted on 29 March 2019

An expert in ecology, evolution and conservation at the University of York comments on a new government order that requires the extermination of sick or abandoned grey squirrels and muntjac deer in animal care and wildlife rescue centres.

Muntjac deer were introduced to the UK from China

Professor Chris Thomas, from the University of York’s Department of Biology, said: "Sick or injured grey squirrels or muntjac deer brought into animal care and wildlife rescue centres can only come from locations that have already been colonised by these species. This means that the new measure will have no effect on the aspiration to quell their spread. 

“The number of individual animals that could possibly be released by rescue centres is minuscule, relative to the numbers that are found in naturalised populations of these species.  The new order therefore will make essentially no difference to their overall numbers. 

"If the government and conservationists want to control muntjac and grey squirrels, then they need to put in real resources to do so, not castigate individuals and organisations that care for injured animals.”

The new order comes into effect on Friday, 29 March 2019.

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