“I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” exploited ‘illegal’ crayfish.

Monday 15th March 2021

Having already received “suitable advice” from the Police in relation to the potential release of non-native species in North Wales (an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) a four-month investigation by Buglife has revealed that the programme makers used a species of crayfish so invasive that even keeping them requires a licence; a licence the makers apparently did not hold.

In November a spokesman for ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ said: “All of the insects used on I’m A Celebrity are non-invasive species”. However, a Buglife review of the footage of Episode 5 of the series found that the programme had used an invasive species of crayfish; which is a crustacean, not an insect!

The Turkish (also called Narrow-clawed) crayfish (Astacus leptodactylus) is an invasive species that damages aquatic ecosystems.  It is strictly controlled, being listed as an invasive non-native species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and keeping them is outlawed by the Prohibition of Keeping of Live Fish (Crayfish) Order 1996.

The investigation by the charity discovered that no licence was applied for by the show in Wales or in the UK.  The Welsh Government concluded that they were “unable to find any evidence that a license application was made in this instance”, while Defra confirmed that “no licence was applied for in this case, and Cefas [the licencing authority] would not have issued one for the purpose for which they were used”.

“In light of these shocking revelations it is imperative that the police reopen their investigation into potential wildlife crimes committed in North Wales by the makers of “I’m a Celebrity…”. Invasive species cause billions of pounds worth of damage every year, preventing that ecosystem destruction is a high priority.  If the police conclude that the programme makers were using invasive species for frivolous entertainment without holding the relevant licences, considering their track record and previous misleading statement, a prosecution would appear to be the appropriate resolution”. Said Matt Shardlow Buglife CEO.