I'm A Celebrity defends use of wildlife after concerns creatures may have escaped in to Welsh countryside

North Wales Police have given advice to the production team of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here after concerns were raised that non-native wildlife used in the programme may have escaped into the Welsh countryside.

I'm a Celebrity uses the creatures in several of its bushtucker trials, in which the celebrity contestants often have to crawl through enclosed spaces full of bugs and often eat them. There were concerns these could harm the countryside if they escaped.

The show defended the use of the wildlife saying that animals used in the trials are only ever released in to a "contained area" and are a "non-invasive" species.

North Wales Police confirmed that it had received information about the use of the animals in the show and had spoken to the production team but was not taking any further action.

“North Wales Police and Natural Resources Wales have received information regarding the potential release of non-native species into ‘non studio’ areas, and we have given suitable advice to the production team regarding their set management and biosecurity," a spokesperson said.

However, the naturalist Chris Packham has criticised the programme for its very use of non-native species, saying there was a 'long legacy' of non-native species causing ecological harm.

He said: "...using non-native species in the UK is hugely irresponsible. We know what will happen if these things get into the wild.

"There is a long legacy in the UK of invasive species doing enormous and ecological harm."

The I'm A Celebrity bosses have defended the use of wildlife for the trials. Credit: I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here../ITV

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the matter should be investigated and made a reference to the case of minks in Denmark - which have had to be culled over coronavirus fears - and potential public health concerns.

He told BBC Breakfast: "We worked carefully with the production company to make sure that all the rules are being observed.

"If there have been some infringement then it's right that they are investigated.

"We would be concerned about non-native species being released.

"Viewers will have seen the stories from Denmark recently about mink and coronavirus crossing species.

"We wouldn't want to see non-native species being released here in Wales because of the risks that that could pose to the health of other wildlife but potentially, as in the Danish situation, the risk to human health as well."

Cockroaches and other insects are used on the programme Credit: PA Images

But he added that the programme "has brought the eyes of people outside Wales to Wales".

"Looking ahead to next year, of course, we look forward very much to being able to welcome people back here to Wales."

I'm A Celebrity is being filmed in Wales rather than its usual location in Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A range of insects have been used during the programme's notoriously unpleasant trials which have seen large quantities of bugs dumped on to the celebrities as they take part in challenges.

The programme's spokesman added: "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.

"The bugs are UK-bred and are commercially purchased in the UK for birds and exotic animal feed for pets and zookeepers in normal circumstances.

"Our insects have been donated to local wildlife sanctuaries, trusts and zoos for their exotic animal and bird feed after filming."

Welsh naturalist and BBC Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams raised questions over the programme's use of the creatures.

He tweeted: "As well as the moral issue of using wild animals for entertainment, surely there are huge ecological issues here also."

Celebrities including athlete Sir Mo Farah, TV presenter Vernon Kay and journalist Victoria Derbyshire are among the famous faces taking part in this series of the programme.

Filming is taking place at Gwrych Castle near Abergele, North Wales.