I found an alien species – what should I do?

If you meet a creature in nature or in your home garden who certainly does not belong to the Estonian fauna, call 1247


MUSKRAT. Although it has existed in Estonian nature for a long time, the muskrat is still an alien species. By: Karl Adami
MUSKRAT. Although it has existed in Estonian nature for a long time, the muskrat is still an alien species. By: Karl Adami


An alien species is an animal, plant, or fungus that a person has intentionally or accidentally brought to a new area. For example, over the centuries, the botanical gardens have left their mark on the local flora, because it has been easy for the seeds to spread across the walls into the wild. Many animal species have been introduced into the wild after they escape from farms.


Attempts have been made in Central Europe to raise raccoons brought from America both on farms and as pets. As a skilled escape artist, this species has already caused enough concern in Germany, for example, and has spread beyond national borders in both trains and cars. Raccoons are already present in Lithuania and are predicted to reach Estonia as well [1]. Similarly, the red-eared sliders and snapping turtles, which have been brought from America to Europe as pets, can be found in the rivers of Western and Central Europe. Both species are able to reproduce in the local climate and have upset the balance of local wildlife as their numbers increase.


In Estonian nature, the following alien species can be found: the Sosnowsky’s hogweed, the Himalayan balsam, the Portuguese slug, the round goby, and the signal crayfish, as well as the raccoon dog, which has become an integral part of our fauna.


If you encounter a species in nature or in your home garden that is definitely not Estonia’s native species, or just need advice, please call the state helpline at 1247. Often, expert knowledge is needed for the identification of an alien species (such as a plant) that has already become naturalised here.


The European Union has established a common list of alien species. In order to limit the spread of the alien species listed there, the Member States must implement measures to prevent the introduction and spreading of the species, as well as to control them. In addition to calling the above-mentioned telephone number 1247, if you find a species on the list of alien species, you can also report it via the nature observations database.


The Environmental Board organises the control of alien species and the preparation of management plans for them, as well as issues permits for alien species. A permit for an alien species is required in cases provided for in the Nature Conservation Act – for example, for relocating alien species kept in artificial conditions to another location or for the rearing of and conducting transactions with a species referred to in the regulation of the Minister of the Environment on alien species which are likely to disrupt the natural balance.




                                                                                                                                          Last modified: 17.01.2022




[1] https://www.err.ee/921610/voimalik-stsenaarium-pesukarud-hakkavad-eestis-looduses-pahandust-tegema.