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These little cuties are a major pest

FURRY coypu and herds of Asian deer may look cute but are among 1,000 invasive species that have disturbed the European ecosystems, threatened native animals, a group of scientists said in a report on Monday.

A new paper estimates that at least 1,000 of Europe's 10,000 alien species of animals, insects and plants have caused substantial environmental or economic damage.

Lead author Montserrat Vila of the Donana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, said: "Not all alien invasive species are a problem, but some are very damaging and have properties which make things difficult for other species by causing changes to the ecosystem, or by eating them."

The paper, published by the Ecological Society of America, lists Europe's worst natural guests and details the damage they cause - decimating crops, upsetting ocean food chains and worsening human health problems such as hay fever.

Ruddy ducks have rapidly increased in Britain and now threaten the white-headed duck, Europe's rarest, due to interbreeding. The Silka Deer, common to Asia but now found in Scotland, threatens the native red deer through breeding.

Italy is battling to control coypu, a South American rodent introduced by fur ranchers. With white whiskers, and bright orange teeth, the unlikely looking pest can destroy vegetation and disrupt irrigation systems.


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