Brussels briefing: EU declares war on grey squirrel and other 'invasive alien species'
Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30
The EU's first ever pests blacklist came into force last week.
Featuring on the list of 37 "invasive alien species" is the North American grey squirrel, scourge of Irish foresters and existential threat to the indigenous red squirrel.
Also problematic for Ireland is the curly waterweed, an aquatic plant originating in South Africa that harms fish and impedes drainage.
The floating weed has made certain parts of Lough Corrib impassable for boats and fishermen, says Ciarán O'Keeffe, a scientist and principal officer at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
"Our main objective is to contain the risk of [these species] spreading to another member state," Mr O'Keeffe said.
The grey squirrel is already widespread in the UK and has wiped out the red squirrel in certain areas.
The EU says invasive species wreak damages of up to €12bn a year on property, crops and livelihoods and need to be stopped from entering EU countries or, if already present, to be kept under control.
The rules do not require the culling of animals, who are allowed to live out their lives in zoos, as long as they don't reproduce or escape.