The Infrastructure Bill proposes to reclassify extinct species as non-native and place them under the same controls as foreign invasive animals are currently subject to, such as the Mink and Grey Squirrel. It is an issue that will undoubtedly stir up strong feelings as news of the bill filters beyond the confines of Westminster. If the legislation is passed, it will come at a time when public support for the re-establishment of extinct species is growing. The first fruits of this policy are already evident with the news that Devon’s recently discovered wild Beavers look set to be captured and placed in captivity, despite a public petition being signed by hundreds of people asking for them to be left in the wild.
The proposal also threatens the existence in the wild of species that have already been re-established here, such as the Red Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Wild Boar, Capercaillie and Goshawk, as well as even native creatures such as the Barn Owl- in line with a clause in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Other extinct species that would be potentially eradicated if they were reintroduced include the Eurasian Lynx, which roamed the country up until a thousand years ago, Wolves, which remained here into the 17th Century and the Wolverine; a resident up until around 8000 years ago.
The legislation makes out that it is protecting the bio-diversity of our country through the enforcement of strict laws to control ‘invasive’ species- but comparing non-indigenous creatures with native ones that became extinct, usually due to man’s intervention, seems completely illogical to me. The government would in fact be stifling our bio-diversity potential by passing this bill, and I hope common sense will prevail. After all, history has shown that when it comes to wildlife and the environment, parliament is often misguided, short-sighted and implements actions without proper consultation with real experts.