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June 19, 2017

Raccoon dog to be included on EU list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern

Humane Society International/Europe

  • Raccoon dog on grass. Alamy

EU Member States have approved the inclusion of 12 additional animal and plant species on the European Union’s list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern. This list includes the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), a species that is exploited by the fur industry and inappropriately marketed as an exotic pet species.

Joanna Swabe, Humane Society International/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, issued the following statement:

“We warmly welcome the inclusion of the raccoon dog on the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern. This non-native species, which has spread throughout many EU Member States, poses a significant threat to biodiversity in Europe. Most of these animals are escapees, or their descendants, from the fur industry. Additionally, irresponsible owners who kept the animals as pets deliberately released or abandoned them.  Humane Society International/Europe originally pushed hard for this legislation because it created the possibility to prohibit the sale, breeding, keeping and transporting of certain species that are currently traded as exotic pets. Regrettably, as a result of heavy fur industry lobbying, the Regulation was weakened to include a provision to allow commercial activities, such as fur farming, involving invasive alien species to continue to operate under a strict system of authorisation and permitting. We are, however, pleased that Member States did not bow to fur industry pressure to remove the raccoon dog from the list. This decision was also the litmus test for the future inclusion of the American mink, another species used by the fur industry and like the racoon dog is presently wreaking havoc in European eco-systems and causing significant biodiversity loss.” 

Facts

  • The raccoon dog is indigenous to East Asia and, despite its name, bears no relation to the raccoon. It is exploited by the fur industry. Each year, hundreds of thousands of these animals are forced to lead miserable short lives in wire cages, primarily in Finland and Poland. 
  • EU Regulation No. 1143/2014 entered into force in January 2015. This legislation allows the EU to more effectively tackle the environmental and economic problems caused by animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms that have been introduced outside their natural range and whose introduction or spread has been found to threaten or adversely impact biodiversity.
  • Member States collectively decide whether each species proposed by the European Commission and/or Member States for listing meets the criteria for inclusion, working on the basis of risk assessments of their invasiveness and ability to establish themselves in several countries. 
  • The initial list of IAS of Union Concern was adopted in July 2016 and covered only 37 species. The inclusion of 12 additional species is the first update of the list.
  • HSI/Europe has also called for clear guidelines to be developed for EU Member States with regard to the management of invasive alien species on the list, placing emphasis on humane control methods, to avoid or minimise pain, suffering and distress as explicitly requested by the Regulation.

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, 301-721-6440

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