On the track of the damaging aliens threatening our world

Bury Free Press - 11th July 2009''Troy Taylor, 9 takes a close look at a crayfish he caught at the Lark in the Park in Mildenhall''Pic - Richard Marsham

Bury Free Press - 11th July 2009''Troy Taylor, 9 takes a close look at a crayfish he caught at the Lark in the Park in Mildenhall''Pic - Richard Marsham

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SCIENTISTS in Thetford are helping the Government totrack alien invaders across the country.

But there is no need to look for lights in the sky, just visit woods, gardens and rivers.

muntjac deer

muntjac deer

The British Trust for Ornithology is helping the environment agency Defra’s GB Non-Native Species Secretariat to set up an advice website.

The GB Non-Native Species Information Portal will go active in the coming month and provide information about 3,000 alien species while allowing people to enter records of sightings.

The trust has also written risk assessments for the secretariat to help identify problems these species already cause and areas they could colonise in future.

In its annual review, the trust says invasive non-native species are ‘one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity’ and that a Defra study suggests they cost the country £1.7 billion annually.

Though the trust specialises in birds, its observers also note other wildlife sightings, so, for example, its British Birds Survey shows American mink numbers doubled in the 10 years to 2008.

A BTO spokesman said East Anglian aliens include signal and Turkish crayfish in the Lark and its tributaries, while muntjac deer damage wildlife habitats across the region and Chinese Water Deer are seen in the Fens and Broads. Egyptian geese have a stronghold and European edible frogs breed in Norfolk.