the naturalist man's picture

Grey squirrels

Up until now it was illegal to release grey squirrels into the wild, even rehabilitated ones, under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

However, Natural England have softened their approach by allowing 450 grey squirrels a year to be released:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3378581.ece

Even though this article is 18 months old as far as I'm aware the licence system is still opperational - does anyone know different?

In my opinion this undermines all the good work people are doing to control the spread of grey squirrels.

What do you think?

Reply

Comments

tootsietim's picture

Grey squirrel release

I recently saw for sale a squirrel trap,(live capture) with no advice as to what you should do with your live (presumably grey) squirrel once you had caught it.
Any recomendations for a humane means of destruction.

the naturalist man's picture

Grey squirrel traps

You can live trap grey squirrels but the problem is what do you do with a mad, flying fur ball full of very sharp teeth. Natural England and the RSPCA only approve two methods of culling - shooting in the trap or removal to a hessian sack and a single blow to the back of the head. Drowning is singled out as an inhumane method.

I have to say though, if you really want to cull grey squirrels then it is far better to use an approved spring trap, the modern ones kill instantly. In a live trap the animal is stressed until you dispatch it.

For more information read the Natural England leaflet "Urban Grey Squirrels" (link below)

http://naturalengland.etraderstores.com/NaturalEnglandShop/Product.aspx?...

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

Craig Shuttleworth's picture

Traps and dispatch

The method used must be humane, but the law as it stands is less than helpful as it an offence to 'intentionally' inflict 'unnecessary' suffering. There is an absence of case law leaving the individual to determine, based on the legal wording of legislation, what method they want to use legally; this does not preclude drowning.

There are some useful articles in ESI Newsletters:

http://www.europeansquirrelinitiative.org/newsletter.html

It would be good if trap manufacturers were to include clear guidance and perhaps some web-based material to guide trap purchasers towards practice that is common placed e.g. sack method or shooting of captured animals.

mattcross's picture

Dispatching grey squirels

A .22 air rifle is very efficient at killing them and relatively safe if done with care. Just shoot them through the head.

Gill Sinclair's picture

Grey squirrels

My own personal view, much as I 100% support the need to protect our native red squirrel, is that it appears pretty pointless trying to control populations of such a successful, opportunistic, prolific breeder as the grey squirrel, and that any time, effort and money spent doing so will probably be wasted.

Perhaps we should concentrate on providing more of the type of habitat that will allow the red squirrel to hold its own 'naturally', the sort of coniferous forest where greys do not thrive so well - more of a long-term solution I know, but I don't think there is a quick fix, and after all we did chop most of the coniferous forest down in the first place.

Incidentally, has everyone seen http://www.grey-squirrel.org.uk/ which actually supports greys? Just interesting to read the arguments - you're not forced to agree with them:-)

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
www.gillsinclair.net
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

lst55's picture

'Cull'

I think it's unfair to kill these animals when we are the reason they're here in the first place. Reds need to be protected but that doesn't necessarily mean that greys have to be destroyed.

Lucy

OU Student

dw5448's picture

Food for free?

I come from a generation that got bounties on grey squirrel tails (about the price of a cartridge or two) - they were seen as pests that damaged young trees, though it is a long time since I heard anyone say that.

A few were recently moved from one of our urban parks to another, and it polarised opinion. One woman encouraged her dog to attack and kill one of the "vermin" while the majority of the David Attenborough nature lovers publicly condemned her.

I was recently offered a recipe for squirrel, so I guess if we are going to reduce or stabilise numbers, we should at least think about how the bodies could be used.

Amadan's picture

I have not tried it -

But I am told that the flavour is good. There was a company selling squirrel and hazelnut pate on the web - don't know if they still do.

the naturalist man's picture

Squirrels

Some good points. There has to be a well thought out cohesive approach to the problem. I agree where grey squirrels are established there is little point trying to cull them. However, where they are trying to encroach into the last strongholds of the red squirrel then culling can be a cost effective solution. I whole heartedly agree there is also a need for a long term approach of creating red squirrel habitat and eventually looking at re-introductions.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

Gill Sinclair's picture

'Natural' control of greys?

I heard at the weekend that as pine martens spread into northern England they are predating on grey squirrels and in some small measure contributing to the control of them. Of course they hunt red squirrels too, but perhaps the martens' behaviour would become modified to a preference for greys as they're so much bigger and therefore a better catch?

By the way, we observed a red squirrel moving through the trees for a few minutes at Loch an Eilein in the Cairngorms on Saturday 8 August, and it was wonderful to see, but not enough light for a photograph.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
www.gillsinclair.net
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

HeatheryBean's picture

As far as I am aware although

As far as I am aware although Pine Martens try to prey on red squirrels, the reds are too nimble in the trees and on the ground to allow themselves to be caught often enough to cause any threat to their population numbers, remember that these two evolved together.
Greys are much more easily caught caught as they are much slower both on the ground and in the trees.
There is evidence that strong pine marten populations can control grey populations to the benefit of the reds.

Gill Sinclair's picture

Natural control of grey squirrels

That's good news in one way - it would benefit both reds and pine martens.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
www.gillsinclair.net
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

miked's picture

There is another factor here,

There is another factor here, the damage greys can cause to trees. If you have not seen it then you may not believe how severe this can be, there are some areas where almost every tree has been severely damaged and reduced to a shrub or killed altogether instead of being a tall tree. Some foresters are at their wits end even with grey squirrel control in place.
You could argue that the ring barking they do is all part of the natural system just like with beavers but beavers are limited to certain parts of the ecosystem rather than being over the whole forested area.

sirhandle's picture

Red's revival

This is quite a contentious issue. Over the last year the red squirrel population at Formby (near Liverpool) has been reduced to about 30% due to the grey pox finally entering the area. The heartening news though, is that quite a few of the remaining reds seem to be naturally immune to the pox virus and they are starting a very slow comeback. The wardens and sceintists working in the area are looking at this natural immunity as a possible, future, vaccine for the reds. There may be a future in this country where both reds and greys can live side by side.

Just go out there and do it!!!

miked's picture

I thought the red squirrels

I thought the red squirrels at Formby are actually Dutch ones or from some other part of Europe and introduced to that area which is why they are rather dark?

sirhandle's picture

There was always a large

There was always a large population of British Squirrels there. First I've heard about Dutch ones, although I'll look into it. The reason it has took so long for greys to enter is because of the habitat (almost exclusively pine wood) on sand dunes. This has been like an oasis to the reds. A few greys have started appearing in peoples gardens and this has inevitably led to the pox spreading.

Just go out there and do it!!!

CrispinSpeckler's picture

Location is everything.

I own and manage a small amenity woodland in East Sussex. My particular interest is in the wild life and so I try to manage in a way that will promote that aspect of the wood. Most of my three years of ownership have been spent trying to learn about what is going on here and what lives here. Very little cutting has been done.

There are a lot of Grey Squirrels and no Reds for hundreds of miles. They do some damage to the trees but they have been here for a long time and the trees are healthy. They can not eat my wood. The density at which they can live is determined by the available food and from memory I think it is about six per acre (far more than the Red).

This is a former Sweet Chestnut coppice returning to native broad leaf under my stewardship because I believe that is better for our native wild life and the profit motive no longer exists. There is no reason left to maintain large areas of non native woodland.

Coppice woodland is very poor in "dead wood habitat". Trees have been removed (and the brash burnt) long before they can reach maturity. Coppice woodland is very tidy.

Grey Squirrels create "dead wood habitat", not enough but I contribute by throwing any trees that I do cut around the forest floor and I don't burn anything.

Should I be using migrant labour? Well, they work for peanuts.

Strangely, in the world of "small woodland management" the pressure to kill everything in the wood is intense and sometimes seems to be fuelled by an absolute hatred of life. It is not just Squirrels. Elsewhere Badgers are being culled as are the Wild Boar. Deer have always been culled. Fox and Hare are killed for sport. Rabbits, Squirrels and anything smaller are all vermin.

I can't think of any British mammal that doesn't need to be exterminated. In my world Bat and Dormouse habitat is destroyed quickly and quietly without any survey to mess things up and with the connivance of the FC.

I don't think anyone wants to kill Hedgehogs but I am probably wrong about that.

Your view of the Grey Squirrel should be determined by your location. Is an existing Red Squirrel population endangered or would reintroduction be viable? One of my first lines of enquiry (it seems very stupid now) was could I have Reds here, I would have loved it. It would simply be inhumane and they would die. So I have to look at what I have got and try to understand it.

The arguments: This only really relates to areas where the Red is not viable.

They Kill trees: They create dead wood habitat which is absolutely vital in promoting biodiversity. The tree can live with them.

They raid birds nests: So do Magpies and Wood Peckers. If the RSPB were to call for a cull, I might give this argument some credence but they don't and they don't kill Squirrels on their own land. Well not for the birds sake, I imagine they do in areas where the Red is viable. I have seen their policy statements but birders correct me if I am wrong.

They spread the parapox virus: Only in areas where there are Red Squirrels and Red Squirrels also spread this disease. there is evidence that it existed long before the introduction of Greys. They didn't bring it here.

They ousted the Red Squirrel from our land:

Thank you for reading this far.

Grey Squirrels can out compete the Red. They are about twice the weight, can digest acorns and thrive in broad leaf woodland. They live at much higher densities, they are also immune to the parapox virus but that is not the reason for the Reds demise.

This next bit is always, always, omitted from the debate but it is recorded historical fact.

We killed the Red Squirrels. Two hundred years before the introduction of the Grey, Red Squirrels were extinct in Scotland. One hundred years later they were extinct in Ireland. No Greys involved. (They reclaimed the land later)

By the nineteen hundreds we were forming "Squirrel clubs". These were shooting clubs that were set up to exterminate the Red Squirrel The Commissioners of the New Forest and later The FC handed out free cartridges and paid a bounty for every RED Squirrel tail!

If you think that I am nuts, then try "Googling" for the infamous "Highland Squirrel Club. They had thirty thousand Red tails by 1933.

I appreciate that you might be thinking that all of this Human activity had little real effect on the Red Squirrel population and it was still the Greys.

We introduced the Greys and we provided a gap. 50 years of determined extermination can not just be discounted. So why is it never mentioned?

The thing that hurts me most is that the very same men that killed the Reds, turned their still smoking guns around and said, "Look what the Greys have done, let's shoot them!"

I have heard that you can fool all of the people some of the time.....

I argue these points on an almost daily basis and when all other logic fails they turn to me and say...

They are good to eat: I don't have anything to say about that.

Thank you for reading that.

Speckler

dw5448's picture

Good defence of greys

Interesting to hear about the shooting of reds, though perhaps not surprising. I think the reality is now that greys add to human quality of life in many areas and so will be welcome in most areas. Probably just as well, as I remember reading studies on overpopulation that showed that litter size went down when they were crowded (stress response), but would go up again if you shot enough of them to ease the population pressure. They win!

I am a bit sceptical about our ability to conserve the reds - lots of effort for little return, and few people will see them so the support may not persist.

CrispinSpeckler's picture

Thanks for not biting my head off!

I have lost too many heads in defence of the Greys.

I can't agree that the battle to conserve the Reds could ever represent little return. We can not afford to lose another species and it is worth whatever effort is required. However, they have very specific habitat requirements and deciduous woodland in the South of England is not where the battle will be fought.

Apart from the need to protect the Red Squirrel the other very good reason to kill Greys and pretty well every other animal in the countryside is to maximise our own financial yield from the land.

Grey Squirrels don't destroy woodland but they do damage trees. If it is your business to process and sell trees, then I understand your antipathy to the Grey and the Rabbits and the Deer. In these circumstances animals just interfere with our ambition.

Now, having said that, I had better declare my own financial interest. The wood that I manage is a small "amenity" woodland and in this sense "amenity" means owned for leisure and recreation. When I come to sell the wood, I will sell it on the amenity woodland market and I believe that the presence of wild life will add value to my property. We have some fantastic wild life in the wood. Badger, Fox, Fallow Deer and Wild Boar are just a few of the mammals but you have to be clever and invest time to see them or even to know that they are there. You don't have to be very clever to see the Squirrels. A squirrel is just money in my pocket. It makes good sense. "Get back in my wallet Squiz, you get to live."

Generally the people that I deal with are more comfortable with that explanation than if I said that I love them because they are fluffy.

Biodiversity and the "Grey Squirrels don't destroy woodland but they do damage trees." Statement:

This year 31 mature Oaks were removed from a neighbours wood. Sold. The trunks are processed and sold as timber. The rest of the tree, the vast majority of the surface area of the tree which is covered in Lichens and Moss and home to numerous insects, birds and mammals is processed for firewood. I haven't ever seen a Grey Squirrel do this sort of damage and this is Ancient Woodland (ASNW).

So where does the Honey Fungus come into all of this?

It has to do with the difference between damaging a tree and damaging a forest. Honey Fungus is a parasite fungi that kills trees. You don't have to Google far to learn that it is feared by woodland managers across the land.

The species of Honey Fungus that I have in my wood is Armillaria ostoyae. This is the same species as the "Honey Monster" that they found in Oregon. DNA has proved that this single fungus covers an area of 2200 acres and I have read estimates of it's age ranging from 2000 to 8000 years.

You would expect this prolific tree killer to be living in a desert after a few thousand years but that is not the case. It lives in the Malheur National Forest. A very beautiful forest. It actually improves biodiversity. Understanding the Honey Fungus helps to understand Grey Squirrel damage.

Grey Squirrels don't cut down Oak Trees, never ever. There is a conflict between men and the animals that see the wood as their habitat. I spend a lot of time with my trees and I can tell you that they say that they prefer the animals to the men.

Thank you for reading that. I will post a couple of pictures of fluffy animals as an observation and maybe you can help me with a positive ID.

Speckler

Peadar na Breac's picture

NO GREY AREAS

I entirely agree. While the eradication of the Grey in these islands ain't gonna happen they must be 'kept on top of' if we are to keep what Reds we have left. Here in Ireland the range of the Grey squirrel is ever increasing to the detriment of the Red.The Glens of Antrim for instance are one of the last strongholds for Reds as there are wide tracts of treeless moorland to be crossed in order for the Greys to gain access.However the roads are hedge lined and approximately three years ago a friend of mine (with a very dependable eye) saw a grey up on this terrain crossing the road and entering the hedgerow.Now we have not seen one since and hope this was an unsuccessful trip and the Grey in question headed back west,but we live in trepidation.
Glad to get that off my chest
Regards Peter

dw5448's picture

How could you keep them out of the Glens?

Peadar gives a good example of the expansion capacity of the creatures. How would you resource a scheme to keep them out, say with regular patrols and trapping or shooting, and what would the public think of this? Could NIEA or someone else be persuaded to come up with the cash and manpower? You can probably tell that I am not an optimist in these (or any other) circumstances.

CrispinSpeckler's picture

Wishin'

I really wish that this was my problem, I would love to have Reds to protect. A couple of thoughts though.

Are you sure that Grey Squirrels are the biggest threat to your Red population? You extincted them once before without any help from the Greys.

I don't know what your situation is but I would look closely at Human activity. It is still possible that people pose a greater threat to your Squirrels.

Down here we don't have Red Squirrels but we do have Dormice and Bats. They are protected by law. If I wanted to fell thirty Oaks on an acre of land, I would hire a local contractor to buy the trees standing. He applies for a felling licence and it is granted. It is granted because he is a practical man working with people that he has worked with for years. No surveys are done, there is not sufficient time between the application and the felling to conduct a survey. I know that bat roosts are disturbed because I see the animals. The law is an ass, easily avoided by the old boys network.

Habitat destruction is an ongoing process and is probably more effective than actually going out and trying to shoot the animals.

You may be losing many more Reds to people than you do to Greys.

I remember reading about the Black Death, Bubonic plague that swept through England in the fourteenth century. People were killing Cats and Dogs in the belief that they were responsible for spreading it, in fact it was spread by Rats. What I mean is that if you are not doing the right thing, then it doesn't really matter how well you do it, it ain't gonna work.

A decision to exterminate a species is a very big decision. One that has to be made by much smarter men than me. I am not convinced that killing one species is the best way to fix killing another. I personally think that if you want to protect any species then you should try and stop wanting/needing to kill animals. Just stop it. The animals will be OK. Nothing needs to be killed. That is the Human problem.

We introduced myxomatosis to get rid of our Rabbit population. 95% died but so did our Butterflies. Rabbits munch and they create clearings and grassland and they provide opportunity for wild flowers. Before you decide to wipe something out you have to know what it is up to. You have to spend time looking at it.

I don't believe that any genuine conservationist would put the control of a species into the hands of the general public. It is not a job for amateurs. But the fact is that the Forestry Commission did offer bounty to anyone that could provide a Red Squirrel tail. Kill Kill Kill.

Are you sure that we need to kill more animals?

Peadar na Breac's picture

Crispin your insight and

Crispin your insight and passion are both wonderful and inspiring. However are we certain that the fool's on this island totally extincted the Reds.Many sober and 'well educated gentlemen' right in to the twentieth century were sure that we had Weasels and not just Stoats.
I would never want to exterminate a species merely repatriate it or to put it another way reinstall its natural range ie. other side of the Atlantic.Can you use the Rabbit argument when we don't necessarily know what the Butterfly population was before the Romans or more probably the Normans introduced the Rabbit.Stable and balanced populations are more likely to be part of a broader bio diversity.
The Reds in the 'Glens' like the Sessile Oak are only there because of their inaccessibility.Many (that is Reds not Oaks) are killed on the roads for example but they can handle this and other pressures.However I have seen in my lifetime areas where Red populations shrank and disappeared as the Greys population grew stronger. Habitat conservation is the key.Trout lakes I fish in the west of Ireland are now pale shadows of what they once were and the reason is totally down to the hand of man.The response for many years was to net the Pike because it predates the trout.This is madness because the two species had long ago found their equilibrium.My point is that in my opinion Greys and Reds won't find this due to the disease factor.By the way we on this island aren't even sure if the Pike was introduced or not!
And with that Goodnight!

CrispinSpeckler's picture

Cool

I am backing out of this now because I don't want to appear to be shouting people down. If you have another opinion then have your say.

I don't know how best to protect the Red Squirrel. I haven't got any, they got shot a long time ago.

Two stories that I have read recently in the press (Daily Telegraph) Red Squirrels have been found dying with lesions caused by Human bacteria on the Isle of Wight. The suggestion was that this was caused by people feeding them without washing their hands first.

The other story was that a man had been successfully prosecuted for drowning a Grey Squirrel that he had caught in a trap.

It is the spreading of irrational hatred of our wild life that I oppose. Why on earth would you feel justified in trapping and drowning an animal for being in your garden?

Beats the heck out of me.

I don't know how to protect the Red Squirrel but if you present yourself as a conservationist then you do not "Cry Havoc and unleash the dogs of war". You have a plan.

To date we haven't resolved very many of our problems by killing animals. I suppose that could change.

I am out of this debate. I am not trying to change the world, I am just trying to understand how best to look after my own animals.

Thanks for all of our help with the ID's. Hope that I didn't upset anyone.

Take care
Speckler

CrispinSpeckler's picture

So That's me out of it then.

"Can you use the Rabbit argument when we don't necessarily know what the Butterfly population was before the Romans or more probably the Normans introduced the Rabbit"

{Sorry, I will try.}

Yes I can. Myxomatosis was introduced in the 1950's. Some time after the Normans.

The Normans introduced the Rabbit because they had not invented sandwiches. However by the 1950's we had a good idea of our Butterfly population. Also our bird population and else where the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), the single most endangered Cat species in the world was destroyed. Look it up. Rabbit diet.

Careful how you mess with stuff,

This is supposed to be something to do with the Open University. That means that you are much smarter than me.

See Ya

Peadar na Breac's picture

Crispin many aspects of your

Crispin many aspects of your islands' Flora and Fauna where different before the Norman conquest and it did not stay the same until the foolish ape unleashed Myxomatosis in the 1950's.When the rabbits came they undoubtedly had an adverse effect on some other creatures and or plants and perhaps the Fox,Stoat and Buzzard (to name but a few) couldn't believe their luck (that is when they weren't being persecuted by the Warrener).Now I know I'm going back a bit here and I could punch holes in the argument that I put forward. But this is a forum,a debate people will and I'm sure do look at what I put forward and say what a load of £$%!. So what, they might do the same if they saw the clothes I wear.So just because some people don't entirely agree with your position doesn't mean they don't respect it and that you retire from the field.For a start your ammo is better than mine!
Now what do we do about your Signal Crayfish.Let them eat all the native's while I await their arrival on my shore.
Hope your still on the Field
Peter

CrispinSpeckler's picture

It's good now I'm gone

There are an awful lot of people in the UK who don't want to kill our Squirrels and they are under represented.

Disregarding the Squirrels for a moment:

somebody should stand up for them. The push for killing the Greys is very aggressive. In my own wood I have found dead animals hanging from my trees. (Rabbits) Put there, I believe, because I protested the need for pest control in amenity woodland.

Those that want to kill are very pushy and those that don't are often pushed.

It is just damn hard and it can get a lot harder.

There is a big section of the public that need a proper man with education (Not me. Expelled from school aged fourteen, sorry) to stand up for them.

There is also a very tiny section of the public that are genuinely concerned with conservation.

Can I pass it over to you?

I have photographs of dead animals in my trees, I don't lie. I photograph everything. They drip, it is better that I don't post them.

The need to kill is just very aggressive and pushy. You can't expect ordinary people to resist a force like this but if you don't have the ability to argue or the heart, when they get unkind, does that mean that your opinion doesn't count?

Good old boys get together and shoot tree rats and who is going to say that isn't conservation.

Cometh the hour....

C'mon then.

dw5448's picture

Maybe there are alternatives to killing greys

Have been away for a month so missed the debate. After thinking about those squirrels in the Glens, I looked at the NIEA website and found the red squirrel action plan - and it taught me a lesson! The current approach seems to be to maintain inappropriate habitat for greys in a band of about 3 miles around the red core areas. Apparently reds eat smaller seeds and can cope with less mixed habitats, so taking out grey-favouring wood "islands" is thought to block the spread. There were even grants available for people who were prepared to clear woodland of the undesired type in the exclusion zone. I was quite heartened for a few minutes.

The worst thing about such published action plans is that you very rarely get to see as much detail on whether money was spent, or, more importantly, how successful the actions are being (or how much effort is put in to really achieving them). The Ulster Wildlife Trust has been very critical of some other (unrelated) action plans which end up just monitoring a decline, but at least there may be an ecological solution if the two species are not yet in the same area.

I still don't know what to do when they are overlapping though.

sirhandle's picture

As previously stated some of

As previously stated some of the reds around Formby look like they are immune to the pox and scientists are working on this angle as we speak. The other argument is the greys compete with habitat and are more agressive in their approach. However there are pockets of areas around the country were it is known that both greys and reds live (west Lake District is one example). Locals there seem to think there is an increase in the red population even though greys are there (especially in the Eskdale valley). Maybe they are already adapting to eachother.
Personally I think culling the greys is a mistake. I know how much enjoyment my family get from seeing these animals around. I know they're not native but to be honest how far back would you go before you consider an animal native? Are rabbits native? Collared doves? Where do you draw the line?

Just go out there and do it!!!

HeatheryBean's picture

Isn't it just! I'm looking

Isn't it just! I'm looking forward to a sudden surge in both their population numbers...Might be waiting a long time, but it's all good! :D

drewdavis's picture

Grey squirrels

I recently watched a documentary about new woodland. It said 25% of new were lost because of the grey squirrel ring marking. Where the grey squirrel removes a ring of bark around the tree, thus killing it. This is surely a case for their control. Does the Red squirrel do this?

Gill Sinclair's picture

Grey squirrels

Hi Drew - I watched the same programme and commented here http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/304203#comment-92769
The statistics for how many they'd culled (429) to no effect (because they were continually replaced by new animals moving in from the surrounding area) I think demonstrated that grey squirrels cannot be controlled by culling.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
www.gillsinclair.net
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

Fenwickfield's picture

To Gill and Drew

I too watched it we also have to remember that deer do this to native and non-native I have seen this in very harsh winter's were even rabbits do it and when the snow thaws the ring is quite high up.I have made my thought's clear about non-native in there defence on previous occasions as Gill will be aware with the recent dead Grey squirrel posting.I looked at the information on the Pine martin very interesting.I you think about it we used to farm Rabbit's then the meat fell out of favour was popular again in war time.We really need to sit down and sort this out if we ate the squirrels then the population would be controlled and stopped killing predators then there would eventually be a rebalance I know it will not be in my lifetime but I hope it does.

Fenwickfield

williegray.wg's picture

Grey Squirrel culling

i am going too go out on a limb here and say that i dont think they should be killed its not there fault they were brought over here and are doing so well. they have as much right too live as our red Squirrel. yes its unfortunate that the reds are not doing so well but as someone else has already stated we (humans) chopped down most of the reds natural habitat we are as much too blame for there decline . i just think that the greys are getting a rough deal they are just as nice as the rest i love watching them how about we start apperciating them more

Fenwickfield's picture

Both

I have both red and grey were I live and feel exactly the same respect for both one is not better or worse.I to think they should not be killed and maybe if our predecessors had thought of this before introducing non native species we would not be having this conversation but they did.I also believe in survival of the fittest and evolution so the strongest and most adaptable will survive,let us also remember we (not personally) have contributed to the decline in the red as williegray has said and numerous other animals look at what we did to the otter.Sadly I could go on with the list I had a grey in my garden last year and it was so wonderful to see I love all creatures and I feel they enhance my life common,rare or as some say pest I want to be connected and part of nature not detached from it picking and choosing what lives or dies.I also have a Jackdaw visiting my bird table which has been injured it knows it is safe in my garden and I get so much joy watching it feeding.Sorry I have veered of your initial subject what I am trying to get over is Grey squirrel or red stoat,fox or rook they all have a right to life and if we engaged with nature more I think we would become much kinder and happier people.

Fenwickfield
Not a nutcase just passionate about nature
As for the discussion on rabbits try and get a hold of a book called the private life of rabbits by R.M.Lockley it is fascinating and you will never look at them in the same light again.

Fenwickfield