Stricter regulations for exotic imports

Europe, on the initiative of The Netherlands, is going to enforce stricter rules on the import of exotic plant and animal species. 

Selling or keeping animals such as the American bull frog, the Red-bellied tree squirrel, the Ruddy Duck and water pennywort plants will be banned next year, as they are deemed 'harmful' to endemic Dutch species.

The list of species will be made in the next few months by the European Commission and should be enforced as of the 1st of January, 2015. The Netherlands will have at least eight species on the list: Painted and Red-eared slider turtles, the American bull frog and the Ruddy Duck.

Further, four types of squirrel have made the list: the Red-bellied tree squirrel, grey and black squirrel and Fox squirrel. These all pose a danger to the endemic Red squirrel.

According to state secretary Sharon Dijksma of Economic Affairs, a European black list is very necessary. "We have been fighting against exotic plants and animals that cause damage for years", she says. "If every country tackles that differently, then it doesn't go anywhere. Now we accelerate together."

Individuals are allowed to keep the animals they already have, until these die naturally. But they are no longer allowed to breed them. Dijksma is keeping the list small for a reason. "We want to limit ourselves to species that do not or occur in limited numbers in The Netherlands. You don't want to add new species."

Dijkstra's initiative is understandable. Exotic species have easy routes into the country, such as through the port in Rotterdam or through Schiphol. Sometimes they escape, or they are released on purpose. Sometimes they come in by accident. This is how the Asian Tiger Mosquito came into the country in shipments of car tires. These insects can cary dengue fever, which is can be very extreme, dangerously lowering blood pressure.