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September 9, 2013

European Commission Introduces Legislative Proposal on Invasive Alien Species

Humane Society International

  • Raccoons. istock

(BRUSSELS)—The European Commission published a legislative proposal on prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species. Joanna Swabe, European Union director for Humane Society International, issued the following statement:

“We cautiously welcome this new proposal on ‘invasive alien species,’ and we support the proposed three-tier approach. However, with a cap on the number of non-native species, for both animal and plant, that can be listed as species of EU concern at just 50, there are limited opportunities to prevent the introduction of exotic animals via the pet trade. We therefore call upon the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to strengthen the proposal by providing greater opportunity to restrict the import and keeping of many more exotic species as pets, particularly those highlighted for a high risk of becoming established in the wild.”

HSI is also pleased to see animal welfare given consideration. The proposal stipulates that EU Member States will be obliged to ensure that animals ‘are spared avoidable pain, distress and suffering’ during the application of measures to control and eradicate them. HSI also believes that, where practical, non-lethal alternative methods should be used to reduce the impact of invasive alien species. At present, inhumane and indiscriminate trapping methods are often used to deal with invasive species and can cause considerable animal suffering. Only humane methods should be used.

Notes to Editors:

  • Invasive Alien Species can be defined as animals or plants that have been accidentally or deliberately introduced into an ecosystem in which they are not normally found. Non-native species are deemed to be invasive when they are able to survive in the environment to which they – intentionally or unintentionally—have been introduced and are able to reproduce, thus establishing a viable population.
  • According to the EU, invasive alien species cost Member States €12.5 billion per year.
  • The EU is proposing a three-tier approach: 1. Prevention; 2. Early detection and rapid eradication; 3. Long-term management and control.
  • Raccoons, grey squirrels, red-eared terrapins and rose-ringed parakeets are just a few of examples of exotic species that have been imported to Europe as pets and are now established in the wild.
  • The control of muskrats in the Netherlands is an example of inhumane trapping methods. Depending on the type of trap used, muskrats will either take several minutes to drown, or will die from exhaustion and hypothermia because the traps are inadequately submerged to kill the animal outright. These traps are indiscriminate and will regularly capture and kill non-target species, many of which are legally protected under EU legislation.


Media Contact: Rebecca Basu, (United States) +1-240-753-4875, rbasu@humanesociety.org

Humane Society International and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organisations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsi.org.