Thursday, September 3, 2009

Grey Squirrel Control

Since their introduction into Britain in the 1870s grey squirrels have spread rapidly. They have displaced the red squirrel throughout most of England and Wales and in southeast and central Scotland.
Grey squirrels can cause serious problems for foresters, native wildlife and gamekeepers. The bark stripping from tree trunks during the months of May and June, damages stands of timber and natural woodland. In spring, the taking of eggs and young chicks can be devastating for songbird and ground nesting bird populations. Damage to hoppers, feed bins and water pipes can cause serious and costly shoot management problems.
The grey squirrel is also a significant factor in the decline of the native red squirrel population in the UK. Greys can carry the squirrel pox virus. And although they are are relatively unaffected themselves t the disease causes considerable suffering and death to the red squirrel –which is already severely threatened and extinct in may parts of the UK.

Grey squirrels have limited legal protection and can be controlled all year round by a variety of methods including shooting, trapping and poisoning. It is an offence under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) to introduce and release grey squirrels into the wild. Under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 any person responsible for a squirrel trap, would only be responsible for any animal caught by it but not its offspring still in the wild. Under the act, it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a kept animal (this includes live caught animals).

One method of control is Shooting.

Shooting of grey squirrels can be a very effective method of control, especially in early spring when young shoots are showing in trees. On a sunny day grey squirrels will work in the outmost branches of a tree and chew the new shoots, they can become easy targets.
The best weapon for this form of control would be an air rifle, it is not recommended to shoot at the angles provided with a .22 rimfire. However, a powerful air rifle (less than 12 ft/llb can and will perform adequately. A rimfire rifle would be more suitable for shooting squirrels on the ground around the base of a tree where a safe backstop is provided.
This also works for shooting with shotguns, around the base of a tree and shooting into the lower branches of a tree a shotgun will kill squirrels humanly, rather than shooting high into the tops and wounding unnecessarily. Remember, as with all shooting, assess your background before taking any shot. If in doubt don’t shoot.

Disposal of carcasses
Unless you intend to eat them, all dead squirrels should be deeply buried or incinerated.

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