Police investigate 'I'm A Celebrity' over use of non-native bugs

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Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are hosting 'I'm A Celeb' from a castle in north Wales this year. (ITV)
Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are hosting 'I'm A Celeb' from a castle in north Wales this year. (ITV)

I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! has been hit by a bug investigation – after the show was reported to the police for its use of non-native wildlife.

The ITV reality show – which, due to coronavirus travel restrictions, is being shot this year at Gwrych Castle in north Wales instead of the Australian jungle – is often criticised by animal welfare campaigners for its use of live creatures such as rats, snakes and insects in the trials.

Now Springwatch presenter and naturalist Iolo Williams has highlighted I’m A Celeb’s use this year of cockroaches – which are not native to the UK – and reported it to the police.

Watch: I'm A Celebrity - Who's in the castle?

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Williams, 58, tweeted: “It appears that #imacelebrity made no licence application to @NatResWales to release non-native species into the wild. This now becomes an issue for [North Wales Police] to ascertain whether offences have been committed. Over to you @NWPRuralCrime.”

Natural Resources Wales, which issues licences for the release of species, told Yahoo UK: “The matter is now being investigated by North Wales Police. We are in regular contact with North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team and will provide advice and assistance to the Team as the investigation progresses.”

If any of the non-native creatures escaped without a licence it would be a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

A spokesperson for north Wales police said: “The matter is being investigated by officers from our Rural Crime team.”

During the show’s trials, celebrities including actor Shane Richie, radio DJ Jordan North and Corrie star Beverley Callard are often seen showered with live cockroaches.

At the end of the trials, the creatures are collected back up and celebrities are asked to stand over a grate and shake themselves down to remove any live critters about their person.

Williams told The Guardian: “There are going to be cockroaches in every nook and cranny along their bodies, you’re going to tell me that every single one of those is found immediately? Of course it’s not.”

He added: “Cockroaches are the ultimate survivors, and if they survive in north Wales and escape into the wild there, what effect are they going to have? I don’t know, nobody knows… I just find it incredible that they’re allowed to do this.”

I'm A Celebrity... is being filmed at Gwrych Castle in north Wales this year. (ITV)
I'm A Celebrity is being filmed at Gwrych Castle in north Wales this year. (ITV)

A spokesperson for I’m A Celebrity told Yahoo UK: "All of the insects used on I'm A Celebrity are non-invasive species. They are only ever released in a contained area and collected immediately after filming.

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“The bugs are UK-bred and are commercially purchased in the UK for birds and exotic animal feed for pets and zoo keepers in normal circumstances. Our insects have been donated to local wildlife sanctuaries, trusts and zoos for their exotic animal and bird feed after filming."

ITV has been criticised by the RSPCA over the treatment of animals on I'm A Celebrity trials. The broadcaster insists it complies with welfare laws.

Watch: Shane Richie covered in spiders for his latest I’m A Celebrity trial

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