Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Grey Squirrels to be culled in the UK in EU plan

Grey Squirrel cull

Like me you may think that grey squirrels are cute animals that you enjoy seeing in parks and woodlands, so you will no doubt be saddened and angry to hear that plans are afoot to cull tens of thousands of them in the UK.

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) Photo: Public Domain

The Forestry Commission and the UK Government are planning to pay British landowners to rid their estates of the animals and grants will be available for up to five years that will pay £100 per hectare of land.  European Union politicians have devised this scheme and it will also be applicable in Ireland and Italy. 

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) Photo: Public Domain

There are around five million grey squirrels in the UK. It is being claimed that the grey squirrel is a harmful pest that has displaced the native red squirrel and that causes serious damage to forests. 

But not everyone agrees with these claims, and many animal activists are opposing the cull. It is argued that the grey squirrel is being blamed for a problem they did not cause. Further it is being stated by the Interactive Centre For Scientific Research About Squirrels (ICSRS) that the grey squirrel is actually of great benefit to our woodlands because it is responsible for the regeneration of forests. Scientific studies have shown that the animals are "unrivalled leaders in seed dispersion."  This is because grey squirrels bury a lot of the nuts and seeds they find. The nuts they forget about germinate in spring and can grow into new trees. 

I can confirm this because my father had a grey squirrel that visited his garden each autumn and planted hundreds of filberts that it collected from his tree. This caused the seedlings to germinate all over my dad's garden to his annoyance, though he used to like seeing the squirrel, all the same.

Furthermore, there is much evidence to show that the grey squirrel should not be blamed for the decline in red squirrel numbers that it is said to have caused. Grey squirrels are adaptable and can live in deciduous woodlands and in parks. Red squirrels are more suited to conifer forests and pinewoods than the greys. Humans have destroyed the habitats of the red squirrel with the continuing destruction of forests throughout the UK. 

Cruel methods can be used to kill squirrels in the cull. Shooting, bludgeoning, trapping and poisoning are all allowed. Poisoning with warfarin, a blood anticoagulant, causes the animals to bleed to death in the same way that rats are killed. Squirrels can be killed in the breeding season too, which means that many baby animals will starve if their mothers are killed.

Petition to Stop the Grey Squirrel Cull

A petition to Stop The European Union Squirrel Cull has been set up, so add your signature if you oppose the killing of these woodland animals.

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