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Team Ecology takes the protection of native wildlife very seriously.
As well as surveying for native species we also make note of non-native species that have the potential to damage our native ecological balance.
We recently carried out a survey in Bedfordshire to ascertain the presence (or not) of the rare and endangered white-clawed crayfish, a native species that is declining at a desperately rapid rate. This is largely due to the introduction of the American signal crayfish that out-competes our native species and, also carries a fungal disease that the white-clawed has no resistance to.
Surveyors have to be licensed by Natural England and, trapping involves an Environment Agency licence as well. Control of non-native species caught is heavily regulated and all equipment has to be scrupulously cleaned with a special fungicide disinfectant before and after all surveys to ensure that the fungal disease cannot be spread to other water-bodies or catchments. Any native species must be returned to the water after measuring and sexing but, any non-native crayfish MUST be killed, they cannot be returned to the water from which they were captured under threat of huge financial penalties and even, periods of incarceration at Her Majesty's pleasure.
Unfortunately, at the Bedfordshire site only non-native signal crayfish were caught. All individuals caught were humanely disposed of. Although more non-native signal crayfish are likely to be in the watercourse, as the famous saying goes… Every little helps!