Monday, July 27, 2009
VICIOUS killer chipmunks that escaped from a British park four years ago have never been found - and could now have bred into a horde thousands strong, The Sun can reveal.
The news will confirm experts' worst fears that the disease-ridden rodents, which are plaguing northern France, have already established themselves in numbers here.
About 30 of the deadly critters went on the run from Wellington Country Park on the Hampshire/Berkshire border in 2005.
Eighteen died and eight more were found or shot - but disturbingly FOUR remained free.
At the time Defra - the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said they were wanted "dead or alive", because of the threat they posed to the countryside and native wildlife.
They can also carry Lyme disease, which targets the nervous system and can be fatal to humans, and even rabies.
With chipmunks reproducing at alarming rates there could be hundreds or thousands here now.
In France their numbers have swelled to 100,000 after just 17 were freed from a park in 1980.
The Sun reported last week how Britain has been invaded by deadly chipmunks pouring in to the country from France - and how one attacked a pet cat TWICE its size in Staffordshire.
Chipmunk breeder Sharon Balchin, 50, from Potters Bar, Herts, said: "It's a worry. Chipmunks will have no problem surviving. There is enough food for them."
A Defra spokeswoman said: "If chipmunks become invasive there is a big threat to our wildlife."