The creators of I’m A Celebrity… Get me out of here! brought invasive crayfish to North Wales without a license, according to an investigation by a UK wildlife charity, prompting further calls for police to investigate the popular ITV program.
Turkish crayfish were used in “bushtucker trials” in episode five of the series, presented live from Gwrych Castle in North Wales late last year, but the show was not allowed to own them, according to Buglife research.
The revelations come four months after The Guardian revealed that police launched an investigation into the show over concerns that non-native species from the set were escaping into the Welsh countryside.
TV host and naturalist Iolo Williams said: “What this does is reinforce my thoughts that it was very irresponsible to possess or release non-native species in this area. No matter how safe they say the whole process is, it is still very irresponsible.
“We know we have massive problems with non-native species that have been introduced in the past and those that are constantly being introduced – this is costing the country millions of pounds every year.”
The Turkish crayfish, also called the narrow-clawed crayfish, is listed as a non-native invasive species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and keeping them, even in captivity, is prohibited by the Keeping Prohibited Order. 1996 Live Crayfish (Crayfish) They grow up to 15cm in length and are one of six non-indigenous crayfish now found in the wild in the UK, having originally been introduced in the 1970s.
“Entertainment is not one of the reasons people should have these dangerous invasive species at all, they just shouldn’t use invasive species for frivolous purposes,” said Matt Shardlow, executive director of Buglife, urging police to reopen their research.
“These crayfish were in a situation that has already been highlighted as potentially dangerous for the escape of non-native species into the environment. Now, I don’t know if there was any risk of these in particular escaping, but that’s something the police need to be aware of. “
Bushtucker tests are designed to scare famous contestants by covering them with live animals such as spiders, snakes, cockroaches, and rats. The show is normally presented live from the Australian jungle, but because Covid-19 was filmed at Gwrych Castle which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The Welsh government said it “could not find any evidence that an application for a license had been made in this case.” The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it did not receive any license applications either and “would not have issued one for the purpose for which they were used.”
A North Wales Police spokesman said: “If anyone wishes to provide us with further information and evidence, we will consider whether further investigation is required.”
ITV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Turkish crayfish are particularly common in the Midlands and south-east England, outnumbering the native white-clawed crayfish, which is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. At a global level, invasive species are one of the five main drivers of the decline of biodiversity.
Authorities previously investigated the show after complaints from Williams, who said he was dismayed after seeing thousands of roaches spilling on contestants. “I’m not sure what species they are releasing, but I can tell you that they are not native. We don’t have those roaches here in the UK and we certainly don’t have them in North Wales, ”he said.
The challenges take place in closed settings, but questions have been raised about what happens to the creatures once the contestants leave the film set. “There will be cockroaches in every corner and crevice throughout their bodies, are you going to tell me that each of them is found immediately? Of course it isn’t, ”Williams said.
In November, an ITV spokesperson told The Guardian that the animals used “are only released in a confined area and collected immediately after filming. They are all bought commercially in the UK and are typically raised as animal feed. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism