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Czech vets start checking imports of invasive species at airport

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Prague, July 26 (CTK) – Veterinary checks will be introduced at the Prague international airport as of August to reveal possible imports of invasive species, Czech State Veterinary Administration spokesman Petr Pejchal told CTK on Tuesday.

“Invasive alien species with a significant impact on the EU must not be intentionally brought to the EU territory,” Pejchal said.

An individual may be fined up to 20,000 crowns and a company up to one million crowns for importing an animal that is on the list of species banned by the European Commission. Such species might threaten biodiversity or ecosystems if they multiplied excessively.

“The animals will be placed at the Prague veterinary administration and consequently returned to a third country. Law enables it to put the animal to sleep, however, this is an extreme variant,” Pejchal said.

The person or firm responsible for the banned import will cover the cost of the animal’s return, he said.

The latest EC list of invasive alien species includes the American bullfrog, the coypu, also known as nutria, the eastern grey squirrel, the raccoon and the red-eared slider, which is a popular pet turtle.

Jan Plesnik, from the Czech Nature Conservation Agency, said the list does not include some introduced wild-growing plants and animals living in the wild that have become widespread in the country and that cause damage to nature, the economy and human health.

Plesnik said the best known examples are the giant hogweed, a noxious weed causing serious skin problems to people, the horse-chestnut leaf miner, a moth that causes damage to chestnut trees, and two small predators, the American mink and the raccoon dog.

The Czech Republic will introduce its own national list that will include these invasive animal and plant species.

On the other hand, the eastern grey squirrel which has been listed by the EC cannot be found in Czech nature.

Jana Jandova, from the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, said some species have spread in the country, although their import was banned several years ago.

For example, many red-eared sliders are still kept as pets and some of these turtles escape to the wild, Jandova said.

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