Invasive chipmunk shot dead in Skåne beech wood

Invasive chipmunk shot dead in Skåne beech wood
The Siberian chipmunk was found in the beech woods around Torup Castle. Photo: Jörgen Nilsson, Länsstyrelsen Skåne
A Siberian chipmunk has been spotted in the beech woods outside Skåne's Torup Castle, the first time the invasive species has been seen in Sweden.
The animal was then shot on Tuesday by professional hunters from Sweden's invasive species taskforce. 
“This species is highly invasive and it's on the blacklist of the European Union so member states have no choice but to kill it,” P-A Åhlén, leader of the Racoon Dog Project task force, told the Local. 
“It poses a threat to our biodiversity.  Have you heard of what grey squirrels have done to red squirrels [in the UK]? It's better to be safe than sorry. It's better to kill it than bring disease to our native squirrels.” 
Åhlén also warned that the animal had been known to spread disease. 
“Once they establish a population Siberian chipmunks have been shown to increase the amount of Lyme disease in populated areas quite heavily.” 
The chipmunks, which are native to central Russia, Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan, are one of 49 species classed as invasive by the European Union.
They have established major populations in Belgium, where they have started to displace indigenous species.
Åhlén said his seven-strong team of professional hunters was primarily tasked with eradicating racoon dogs, which have spread rapidly from East Asia through Finland to Sweden, but also targeted musk rats, Egyptian geese and other species classed as invasive by the EU. 
Nils Carlsson, who is responsible for invasive species at Skåne's regional council, said he had called Åhlén's team as soon as he was sent pictures of the animal. 
“The Siberian chipmunks in Denmark have gone wild and started to grow and grow in numbers,” he told the Sydsvenskan newspaper. 
He said another report had come in of a Siberian chipmunk in Abbekås on the Skåne south coast, but that this animal had not been found by hunters. 
Despite the chipmunk population in neighbouring Denmark, Åhlen said that the chipmunk was almost certainly an escaped pet. 

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