Here in Britain and Europe, is classed as an Invasive Alien Species (IAS) which is any animal that is not native to the UK. Indeed the law (sort of) encourages it. 1 comment. There is currently no other licensed poison for grey squirrel control. It still is: if you inadvertently trap a grey squirrel in your garden shed, you’re breaking the law when you free it. Jason Gilchrist does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Snares can be legally used to kill foxes and dogs can be legally used to flush foxes out of cover to be shot. However, they carried the squirrel … In the meantime, my advice to the public is to leave injured or orphaned grey squirrels be. It’s often argued that killing grey squirrels is justified as they predate bird nests. Under Schedule 9 of the WCA, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape, without a license granted by Natural England. Considerable progress has been made and … Pine martens could be an effective, natural control on grey squirrel numbers. They are better off taking their chances in the wild. It has been illegal to import and keep these animals under existing British legislation dating from 1937. You may have seen the bad press a Facebook group, ‘Grey Squirrel Hunters UK’, received in the national press a while back. Originally introduced from North America, grey squirrels are now common in England, Wales and central Scotland. The grey squirrel was introduced into the UK in the 1800s. As such, the grey squirrel is regarded as a pest species and is afforded no protection under the WCA. This move will bring England into line with established policies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where release licences are not issued. To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. The eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), also known as the grey squirrel depending on region, is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus.It is native to eastern North America, where it is the most prodigious and ecologically essential natural forest regenerator. But there is scant evidence that squirrels have a significant impact on songbirds. Bird traps used under general licence capture and kill corvids and gulls. Compared to the 11 million domestic cats and more than 40 million non-native game birds, there are only an estimated 2.5 million grey squirrels living in the UK, and 700 are taken into captivity each year. They are due to come into force the day before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. But it must be done in a humane manner or you will be fined under animal welfare laws. The Government has a long-term strategy to help control grey squirrel populations where they are identified as a specific threat to forestry or to existing populations of red squirrels. Elsewhere, it might make little sense for wildlife rescue centres to put time, effort and money into caring for animals that, upon release, would be targeted by a cull. If adopted into UK law, the regulations will force wildlife centres and veterinarians to kill healthy animals such as grey squirrels and muntjac deer. They have been blamed for the decline in Britain’s red squirrel population . The UK’s only viable populations of red squirrels are in places where greys are rare or absent. The government says non-native species are a threat to the UK’s native biodiversity. The UK will continue to uphold international obligations as an EU member state and also as a responsible partner nation working closely with other countries to protect our native wildlife and forestry landscapes for future generations to enjoy. 20 December 2019, 3:50 am. The only successful local eradication happened in Anglesey in Wales, where 9,597 grey squirrels were killed at a cost of £1,019,000 – that’s £106.18 per squirrel, and it took 16 years. Edinburgh Napier University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK. The introduction of grey squirrels has had a disastrous impact on the UK’s only native squirrel species, the red squirrel. The EU license for the production and sale of Warfarin as a grey squirrel bait ended in September 2014. On an even greater scale, the game bird industry releases millions of non-native birds – 35 million pheasants and six-and-a-half million red-legged partridges – into the British countryside each year, to be shot for sport. Where and when to see squirrels and their dreys . In defence of the grey squirrel, Britain's most unpopular invader. It is legal to kill grey squirrels and most people do it by trapping and shooting. Law: Under the Pest Act 1954 Section 8 and the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 1972 Article 21, it is an offence, in respect of any animal, to use or permit the use of: * an unapproved spring trap (e.g. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises dispatching the squirrel by shooting or by a swift blow to the head. This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely dispatch it. Bruce MacQueen/Shutterstock. Grey squirrels, originally from North America, were released in the UK by 19th century landowners. Read more: Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone. Species information. Muntjac deer and grey squirrels dubbed ‘illegal aliens’ under EU rules. They’re also significant predators of native adders, a species of major conservation concern, and the extremely rare sand lizard. PUBLISHED: 15:41 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 February 2018. A Leatherhead-based animal rescue charity has called on the Government to block new EU regulations which could lead to some animals being euthanised. Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) Schedule 9 – makes it illegal to release, or to allow to escape, to the wild any captive grey squirrel. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Get advice Get professional advice if you do not know: Too often the default response to a “problem” animal is simply to kill it. Member States, such as the UK, have 18 months to put in place effective and proportionate management measures for listed species, including grey squirrels. They mostly live in broadleaf woodlands containing oak, beech, sweet chestnut and hazel but will also be found in a wide range of habitats such as parks, gardens and urban areas where there are suitable trees. Advice Note – Red Squirrels and the Law 2004 by UK Red Squirrel Group. Exclusive: Rescue groups will be breaking law if they nurse a creature back to health and return it to wild A red squirrel coat colour can vary from the classic rusty red to much darker colours like grey and black. The cost to UK forestry is estimated to be £10 million per year, including damage to timber caused by the grey squirrel’s habit of stripping bark from trees. Tree-climbing nut buriers, scampering grey squirrels are a familiar sight. When grey squirrels are singled out for strict release control on the EU hit list of Invasive Alien Species, why aren’t pheasants? It provides an easy encounter with wildlife for many people, but can be damaging to woodlands and has contributed to the decline of the red squirrel. Fertility Control (Immunocontraception) Fertility Control could provide a number of benefits because it is a non-lethal, humane and publicly acceptable method of grey control. You must immediately block rat holes or other holes through which squirrels could escape. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, EU Regulation (1143/2014) on invasive alien (non-native) species, Coastal access in Cornwall: plan of the St Mawes to Cremyll stretch, England Coast Path from Highcliffe to Calshot: comment on proposals, Coastal access in Cornwall from St Mawes to Cremyll: comment on proposals, Common land: transfer of a right of common in gross (CA6), Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support, Transparency and freedom of information releases. If you ever attempt a close encounter with a grey squirrel you will discover that they have a vicious bite. We’ll send you a link to a feedback form. We use this information to make the website work as well as possible and improve government services. Where grey squirrels live. Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order will … The campaign against grey squirrels is justified by the UK government, which insists that grey squirrels threaten native wildlife and harm the economy. Non-indigenous animals, including grey squirrels (pictured) can be subject to euthanasia under new regulations . Invasive species cost the economy an estimated £1.7 billion per year. It’s illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild from December 2019. The best way of culling grey squirrels. I would recommend alternative methods to limit grey squirrels, and to encourage natural processes that can set a new ecological balance. There is no requirement on vets to euthanise any injured or healthy squirrels that are brought into rescue centres. The environmental impact of releasing a handful of grey squirrels – particularly in areas where red squirrels are absent – is likely negligible. Greys compete with reds for food and also carry a virus known as squirrelpox. Grey squirrels and muntjac may face euthanasia under new EU law. While domestic and feral cats decimate songbird populations, they’re unlikely to be targeted for culls any time soon. After you are familiar with the signs they leave behind, it’s time to learn the most effective methods to get rid of squirrels quickly and according to the law. They do, and so do red squirrels. A moderated rimfire. This order prevents the release of these animals back into the wild to help protect the endangered red squirrel, with only 15,000 left in England. Their populations have declined as a result of competition with invasive grey squirrels and the parapox virus they carry. Invasive non-native species, including the grey squirrel, not only challenge the survival of our rarest species but damage some of our most sensitive ecosystems, costing the economy more than £1.7 billion per year. Mammals; Statistics Length: 24-28.5cm Tail: 19.5-24cm Weight: 400-650g Average lifespan: 2-5 years. The solution looks simple at first. While greys are actually immune to the disease, they transmit it to reds, for whom it is fatal. To allow for this period of consultation, keeping and release licences issued by Natural England will be extended until the Order comes into force in October 2019. illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild, threaten native wildlife and harm the economy, In defence of the grey squirrel, Britain's most unpopular invader, exceeds that of the entire breeding population of native birds, estimated 2.5 million grey squirrels living in the UK, 9,597 grey squirrels were killed at a cost of £1,019,000. Write an article and join a growing community of more than 117,800 academics and researchers from 3,797 institutions. Should the UK commit to the relentless killing of grey squirrels in perpetuity? You’ve accepted all cookies. Under the EU Regulation, it is a requirement for management measures to be put in place for widespread invasive species. It is perfectly legal to kill a grey squirrel. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order will come into effect during October 2019. But the point of rescue centres isn’t principally conservation, it’s about animal welfare and well-being. Legal status of the grey squirrel The grey squirrel is included in Schedule 9 of the WCA and the W(NI) Order. They are now very common and widespread. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 that the Government will lay before Parliament at the beginning of March represents no change to the keeping of grey squirrels in UK law. You must not let it go as this act would be illegal. The Government has confirmed the implementation date of the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019. IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO LAWFULLY AND HUMANELY SHOOT OR TRAP IN ORDER TO CONTROL GREY SQUIRRELS KILL TRAPS MUST NOT BE USED IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE OF REDS SQUIRRELS BEING IN THE AREA Red squirrels have been protected against intentional acts of damage or disturbance since 1981 under the UK Wildlife & Countryside Act (WACA), Schedule 5. Under Schedule 9 of the WCA, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape. Find out everything you need to know about these American imports from what they eat to where they live. In the autumn they spend time storing nuts to eat during the winter. A plan to tighten rules around releasing invasive non-native animals which threaten our native wildlife will come into effect in October 2019, the Government today (1 March) confirmed. a gin trap which is a form of spring trap with toothed jaws, banned in 1958). In 1932, it was made illegal to release a grey squirrel in Britain. Conservation status. Your hide can be made of anything but make sure it blends in with the surroundings. Under Schedule 9 of the WCA, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape. According to the British Red Squirrel charity, it is estimated that grey squirrel bark stripping damage costs the UK timber industry some £14million every year. Days out shooting grey squirrels present a good challenge mixing and matching the guns to the style of squirrelling activity you are undertaking. It’s an offence to keep or release some wild animals, for example grey squirrels - you must kill them humanely if you catch them alive. As the law stands it is perfectly legal to kill grey squirrels as long it is done in a humane manner; the Wildlife Act 2006 states that it is against the law to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal under your care. Category. Many of the UK’s native predators are killed to maximise the density of game birds for hunters to shoot. Firstly we would never condone killing a wild animal unless absolutely necessary and a distinction should be made between the legal protection of grey squirrels and red squirrels. There will be an upcoming period of consultation on the Government’s proposed management measures for these species. When grey squirrels began preying on birds nesting in his garden, Roy Hill thought he had the humane solution. Grey squirrel. Too often, when an animal is referred to as a pest or an invasive species, any concerns for their welfare go out the window. Once accepted as a member of the group, I was quite amazed to see that it was just a group for like-minded hunters, showing off their quarry. The total mass of pheasants released annually exceeds that of the entire breeding population of native birds. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order will mean that Natural England will no longer issue release licences for grey squirrels. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is also currently an offence to release grey squirrels without a licence. The Grey Squirrel action plan is published online. Ear tufts. Grey squirrels are active during the day, foraging for food in trees and on the ground – they often visit peanut feeders in gardens. In the United Kingdom, the killing of squirrels as game animals is illegal, but the killing of invasive gray squirrels as pests is permitted. Hundreds of people face prosecution for killing pests in their back garden after a landmark legal ruling that saw a man fined more than £1,500 for killing a squirrel. They are due to come into force the day before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. More recently Black Squirrels, which are a colour variant of the grey squirrel, have been observed in several southern counties of the UK. Pheasants also cause around a million road accidents each year. They are now regarded as a … One of the best-known is the grey squirrel, which threatens our native red squirrel and causes significant damage to forestry in the UK. Licences to permit the release of grey squirrels for specific purposes can be issued by government departments. Ministers have admitted defeat in their battle against grey squirrels, and will scrap a law to protect their red cousins. Grey squirrels are vulnerable because they were introduced to the UK in the 1800s from North America. So killing grey squirrels is not necessarily money well spent. The solution looks simple at first. Rescued grey squirrels to be killed under new law – but Britain's 'invasive' problem runs much deeper. In the UK, grey squirrel control costs approximately £14 yearly and the most popular methods used to get rid of them are … This means that wildlife rescue centres in England which previously took in, rehabilitated and released wild grey squirrels, will instead have to kill them, on both practical and ethical grounds. Because grey squirrels are an invasive pest species, it is against the law to re-release a grey squirrel if it’s been caught alive, per the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019. Red squirrels are native to the British Isles. Grey squirrels have limited legal protection and can be controlled all year round by a variety of methods including shooting and trapping. Therefore, their coat colours can look very similar. Any companion animal of a listed species - that was kept before it was included on the EU list - may continue to be kept in secure accommodation, as long as it is not able to breed until the end of its natural life. Grey squirrel colours can vary from grey to black, but they can also have red-tipped coats. It is an offence under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) to introduce and release grey squirrels into the wild. Grey squirrels have rapidly spread since they were introduced into this country 150 years ago, displacing the native red squirrel. Squirrels can be found almost everywhere in the UK, though whether they are red or grey depends on the area. Since the introduction of the grey squirrel in the 19th century, the red has suffered serious decline and is now only found in small pockets of the UK… Stoats and weasels can be killed in snap traps. Why is it acceptable for animal shelters to rescue an invasive alien species, the domestic cat, and for the public to allow them to roam free, but unacceptable for wildlife rescue centres to help and release a few grey squirrels? The grey squirrel is regarded as an invasive non-native species following its inclusion under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Country Act 1981. I saw the news reports and promptly joined the group to show my support and to see what all the fuss was about. We use cookies to collect information about how you use GOV.UK. Research continues to develop a squirrel pox vaccine that would inoculate red squirrels against the disease that greys carry. There are 11 million pet cats in the UK, which kill about 27 million wild birds each year and around 92 million wild prey in total. Grey squirrel control is a legal activity which does not need to be licensed. Copyright © 2010–2020, The Conversation US, Inc. There are also glaring contradictions in what is considered invasive and what needs to be controlled. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is also currently an offence to release grey squirrels without a licence. Grey squirrel law scrapped: Ministers finally revoke 1937 legislation that made failure to report presence of rodent on your land a criminal offence. Grey squirrels are native to North America and are considered an invasive species in the UK as they are not regulated by natural predators. This means that it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape, even if it was taken into captivity for welfare reasons. These actions will remain illegal under the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order in line with the EU Regulation (1143/2014) on invasive alien (non-native) species and domestic policy. Jason Gilchrist, Ecologist, Edinburgh Napier University. As such, the grey squirrel is regarded as a pest species and is afforded no protection under UK law. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. It’s illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild from December 2019. But just about everybody accepts the impossibility of eradicating grey squirrels. Archant “When I first got one of my permissions, it was overrun with squirrels; in the first year alone I shot 472”. There is no requirement for vets to euthanise injured or healthy squirrels as a result of this order. Grey squirrels are on the first Species of Union Concern list, which came into force on 3 August 2016. Read full article . Grey squirrels were imported from America to the UK in the 19th century, when they were seen as a fashionable addition to estates. Shotguns have their uses but, as with corvid shooting, I favour a rifle for precise squirrel ambushing. You must also secure any drainage channels to prevent escape. Pheasants are a non-native species, but their UK population is boosted by the annual release of millions of birds for the sake of game bird shooting. There’s evidence that pheasants affect local plant communities by increasing the area of bare ground and changing the soil chemistry. Domestic cats are hunting many species of wildlife to extinction. These alternatives to trapping and shooting include developing oral contraceptives to prevent grey squirrels reproducing and managing woodlands to benefit reds over greys, by planting more conifer trees and allowing pine martens to return. It’s illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild from December 2019. If adopted into UK law, the regulations will force wildlife centres and veterinarians to kill healthy animals such as grey squirrels and muntjac deer. If you ever attempt a close encounter with a grey squirrel you will discover that they have a vicious bite. 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 … But that cost also includes money spent on controlling grey squirrels, and there is no link between how much is spent on controlling their numbers and reducing damage to trees. An area-specific licensing system could also be maintained, whereby rescue centre greys are only released in areas with no red squirrels and no commercial forestry concerns. This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely … Red squirrels have ear tufts whereas grey squirrels don't. Finally revoke 1937 legislation that made failure to report presence of rodent on your a. Animals being euthanised or by a swift blow to the relentless killing of grey squirrels ‘... Have red-tipped coats use cookies to collect information about how you use GOV.UK the meantime, my advice to style! Send you a link to a feedback form a law to protect red. 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