Grey squirrels face Cornwall cull

Thousands of grey squirrels could be culled in parts of Cornwall to help red squirrels return to the county.

Landowners on the Lizard and in west Penwith want to generate support for the scheme, which has the backing of Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall.

Grey squirrels carry a virus that kills red squirrels, which were last seen in Cornwall in 1984.

The grey squirrels would be initially culled using poisoned food and then trapped in later stages of the project.

Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, who owns about 400 acres around the Helford estuary on the Lizard said there was a “huge desire” to try to bring back the red squirrel to the area.

‘Huge challenge’
However, he admitted a cull would be a “huge challenge”.

“I’m not sure if we can succeed,” he said.

“It only takes a few grey squirrels to get back in to put the project in jeopardy.”

The culling would be paid for by landowners in the area.

The Prince of Wales will launch a reintroduction project for specially selected parts of the county as he visits the Royal Cornwall Show on Thursday.

It is legal to cull grey squirrels as long as the method used is approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Small traps called hoppers containing poisoned maize have to be approved with a spring-loaded flap so that only the grey squirrels are caught and other animals like dormice are not captured.

Any poisoning has to be carried out by a trained person and culling is only allowed from March to August to protect non-target species looking for food.

The culling process could take a total of two years.

Sir Ferrers added: “It’s a great opportunity.

“The Lizard is surrounded by the sea and we can create a buffer zone along a narrow gap from Helford to Looe Bar to stop greys from coming into the peninsula.

“If we can remove the greys from the Lizard we have a really wonderful chance to reintroduce the reds here.”

Grey squirrels were first introduced to the UK from North America in the late-19th Century.


3 Replies to “Grey squirrels face Cornwall cull”

  1. Well we all know how much Charles Windsor likes killing animals he will be in his element with this. What an absolute disgrace to think about culling these innocent creatures is it so important to get the red squirrel back after all a squirrel is a squirrel what ever colour it is. These people just want an excuse to cull something and to think about poisoning them is just disgracefull do these people have any idea how much an animal suffers from poisoning???What a bunch of murdering cretins they are and the heir to the throne is a shocking example of this murdering Country.

  2. A Squirrel is not a Squirrel whatever colour it is, rSonja Allen. Red and Grey Squirrels are different animals, not just in colour. Grey Squirrels are bigger, more aggressive, and have much higher breeding capacity.
    Red Squirrels have an ecological niche in the countryside, Grey Squirrels do not. That is why Grey Squirrels do not belong in this country. They are not native, and they cannot exist in the countryside without putting native species at threat. Red Squirrels, on the other hand, are native, and they have a place in the British countryside.

    They do not want an excuse to cull something. They want to conserve a threatened native species, and they are right to do so. Grey Squirrel culls are essential for Red Squirrel conservation.

    I have never used poison for Squirrels. Only for rats on a farm, when it was infested and traps weren’t working. I always use traps for Squirrels. But traps don’t always work as well as required. Poison works better than traps, and is sometimes necessary.

  3. Forgot to mention that Greys live at densities of 15 per hectare, the Reds 3 per hectare. Greys live at 5 times the density per hectare, and also eat 7 times the food per hectare.

    Greys cannot live in the countryside without threatening native species. The Red Squirrels can. They have a niche, but the Greys don’t.

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