“Efforts to control grey squirrels in England’s woodlands need to be more effective, better coordinated and sustained in order to protect and enhance our vulnerable red squirrel population and to reduce impacts on woodlands so that they can thrive for biodiversity and economic interests…” That’s just one of the impelling reasons why, in a recently-released document, the Forestry Commission has laid out plans to commence a cull of tens of thousands of grey squirrels throughout the UK.
The cull, which is planned to start in January 2015, is to be funded to the tune of ‘many millions of pounds’ of public money by way of grants from the government or European Union. Landowners will be able to apply for funding of £100 per hectare per year for five years to assist in a grey squirrel pogrom, using whatever method they prefer. The money could be used for poisons (like Warfarin), traps… or, we wonder, even to pay airgunners to shoot them!
Well, at the very least, it would pay any airgunner to talk to the owner of their permissions to at least advise them of the funding that’s available – even if they’re happy to carry out their pest control duties free of charge!
Grants for the grey squirrel cull will be available to those landowners who can demonstrate that their woodlands are suffering at the hands of tree-rats. With the non-indigenous grey (Sciurus carolinensis, which was imported from America in the 1800s) being blamed for causing up to £10 million worth of damage to British woodlands per annum, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for most landowners…