Normally the show is staged live from the Australian jungle, where celebrities take part in challenges and dares with live animals, like being covered in bugs or surrounded by rats.
Authorities are investigating ITV after complaints from TV presenter and naturalist Iolo Williams, who was dismayed after watching the show last week and seeing thousands of cockroaches crawling on the contestants. He described it as “folly” to use non-native species for entertainment.
“I don’t know what species they release, but I can tell you that they are not native. We don’t have these cockroaches here in the UK and we certainly don’t have any in North Wales, ”he said.
Although the challenge occurs in a confined environment, contestants would still carry bugs when leaving the compound, Williams said. “There are going to be cockroaches in every nook and cranny of their body, are you going to tell me each of them is found immediately?” Of course not.ITV said all of the bugs used on I’m A Celebrity were non-invasive, but declined to comment on the species used. A spokesperson said: “They are only ever released in a confined area and collected immediately after filming. They are all bought commercially in the UK and are normally bred for animal feed. ”
While not all non-native species are invasive, some can permanently change ecosystems and are one of the top five drivers of biodiversity decline, according to the UN. The wood of Gwrych Castle is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), meaning it is home to some of the country’s rarest species or habitats. Half a kilometer from the castle is another SSSI run by the Woodland Trust called Coed y Gopa, an ancient forest home to ospreys and goshawks.
The Springwatch presenter said it was particularly ridiculous given that it has so far been impossible to release beavers in Wales – even though they were a native species.
Williams said: “Cockroaches are the ultimate survivors, and if they survive in North Wales and escape into the wild there, what effect will they have? I don’t know, nobody knows… I just find it amazing that they are allowed to do this, and I’m not a killer here. Why not use fish casings or organ meats? ”
Natural Resources Wales, which licenses the release of species, has not received a request from ITV to release non-native species. If these species were released without a permit, it would be a violation of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
A spokesperson for the North Wales Police said: ‘The case is currently under investigation by officers from our Rural Crime Team.’
Invasive species that are now established in the UK include the non-native fungus that causes ash dieback and the signal crayfish that transmit the disease to native crayfish. There are around 2,000 established non-native species in the UK, at an annual cost of £ 1.8 billion to the economy, according to the Environmental Audit Committee.
I’m a Celebrity has also faced complaints from the RSPCA. Last week, the charity raised “serious concerns” about the welfare of abandoned, brutally handled and run over animals by the show’s competitors. He is concerned about viewers trying to copy home bush trials, in which animals were killed “for purposes other than entertainment.”
“We believe that deliberately portraying certain species as wicked or frightening or as objects that can be used only for entertainment rather than for sentient beings, living creatures send the totally wrong message,” the charity said in a post. on its website.
ITV said the program “complies with animal welfare law regarding the use of animals, and we pride ourselves on our exemplary production practices.”