2017-02-01   facebooktwitterrss

Keep Options Open on Grey Squirrel Control

Figures just published show that in strategically systematic andcoordinated programmes carried out in the north of England, grey squirrel control is most effective when a combination of trapping and shooting is used, with shooting proving to be the most effective aspect of control.

The programmes, which were carried out in North Cumbria by three adjoining red squirrel conservation community groups (Brampton, Penrith & Solway) with a combined area of approximately 1430 square miles between July and December 2016 showed that 72.8% of grey squirrels were shot, 25.4% trapped and 1.8% were road casualties

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel

The figures for shooting rose to an average high of 86.6% in the months of October, November and December with 92% being achieved in one area in November 2016.

Shooting was carried out at fixed points with baited feed stations using air rifles and with full appropriate risk assessments, insurance and strict protocols being in place.

“These figures show how important it is to utilise all the methods at our disposal to control grey squirrels,” said Andy Wiseman, Chairman of The European Squirrel Initiative.

“Shooting carried out in a controlled and systematic way is clearly very effective in reducing grey squirrel numbers.”

Congratulating Julie Bailey who collates and produces the statistics from standardised squirrel recording data, Mr Wiseman went on to explain that over 1500 grey squirrels were removed during the six month period and the work was part of ongoing red squirrel conservation work carried out by these groups.

“We must congratulate all those involved in these programmes as it shows what can be done when a systematic, consistent and concerted effort is put in place to control grey squirrels. As a result of this work we are significantly reducing the damage to our Broadleaved forests and pushing back the grey invasion allowing our native red squirrels to thrive and prosper in this part of England”, he added.

“We are very fortunate that Cumbria still has an abundant healthy population of red squirrels living in their natural environment. The standardised recording data provides very clear significant evidence that using a combination methodology of both trapping and shooting is the most effective means of clearing areas of the non-native grey squirrels to allow our iconic and genetically unique

Red squirrels to survive for now and forfuture generations to enjoy” said Julie Bailey. She also added; “This invaluable work and the work of many other community based red squirrel conservation groups across the UK is carried out without government funding. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency as it is the dedicated ‘boots on the ground front line work’ by these communitygroups that ismaking the biggest impact in red squirrel conservation. Recording data provided by the community groups year on year in the North of England shows that approximately 70% of the overall grey cull isby these groups and without sustainable government funding to support them, the North of England will lose its RED’S”.

ESI

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