Potential for Airgunners to Earn £££s from Squirrel Culling

The UK's non-indigenous grey squirrel. It causes £10 million worth of damage and has almost eradicated the UK's native red squirrel - and now there's to be a national cull with full, EU and UK government funding

The UK’s non-indigenous grey squirrel. It causes £10 million worth of damage and has almost eradicated the UK’s native red squirrel – and now there’s to be a national cull with full, EU and UK government funding

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…

Well-known airgun authority Nigel Allen is the editor of Britain's award-winning shooting magazine, Airgun Shooter (available worldwide). Email: nigel.allen@futurenet.com

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21 comments on “Potential for Airgunners to Earn £££s from Squirrel Culling
  1. Danny Hughes says:

    I’m for it but I don’t agree in poisons

    • The Editor says:

      We agree – as do many other readers. The problem with poisoning (and trapping), is that a lot of ‘innocent’ wildlife can inadvertently get caught. Control with the air rifle is by far the best method!

      • Kevin says:

        Not really,live catch trapping is by far the best method.All non target species can be released and no poison is introduced into the environment and it will dispose of far more squirrels then any air gunner could hope to do.Also funding will only be available for trapping to landowners who have in place woodland management plans which are strictly adhered to and all guidelines followed and and proved to working.

  2. darren conlan says:

    I agree with the cull, the damage is probably understated with most of home owners not reporting their loft damages,

    I would like to add it would be available within the Midlands area for land ownership to contact for a service to help to call in their properties with a safe disposal of the carcasses a must.

  3. Nick King says:

    I completely agree that air rifles and shooting in general are the best methods of control. Shooting is very selective, final and verifiable. Non target species are left unharmed; where traps and secondary poisoning can take more than was intended.

    If they brought back the tail bounty it might be easier to implement payments and therefore result in more people actively taking them on?! My brother and I take plenty from the woods we visit, but they filter back in again from surrounding areas. If more people were moved to action then reducing their numbers country wide might actually happen.

  4. Rob Collins says:

    I deal with tree rats on an almost daily basis and look after approx 10,000 acres, Much of this is woodland I trap and shoot both with shot gun and air rifle many many squirrels a year, I do not use poison and concur with Nigel poison free pest control is the right way weather trapping or shooting them humanly, Not only that I have some great recipes for squirrel like my Southern Fried Pop Corn Squirrel, So poisoning them is defiantly not an option for me both as a countryman or a game cook 😉

    Cheers Rob Collins
    Aka: The Ole Hedge Creeper

  5. If we tell our land owners about claiming funds for the cull who do they contact?

  6. Hunter says:

    totaly up for that but on one of the perms I have the owner is getting fussy as he said last visit be carefull of the trees as I found a hole of airgun pelleted lol that’s after saying kill all the squirrels

  7. Steve Yates says:

    squirrel cull? those little grey things? BRING IT ON please,
    obviously, from the comment above comment, I’m all for a cull of the grey tree rats, but what about the BLACK species that are reportedly on the rise, as they are a derivative of the greys, are these to being culled, in my opinion the should be, due to their similarities with the greys they too carry the pox virus and so are still a threat to our native reds….


    I never thought Iwould say this phrase, but here go’s

    UP THE REDS!!!!! LOL

    • The Editor says:

      Not seen any of this species, but if they’re a derivative of the genus Sciurus carolinensis, then I’d say they’re legitimate cull targets

  8. Geoff Hill says:

    I have dispatched many grey squirrels with traps and air gun in my garden, if set up correctly there should be no problem with none target species with the exception of rats so no problem there, and I also use a none lethal trap and dispatch them with the air gun.
    If the cull does not include squirrel populations in residential areas then it will only be a matter of time before they spread and once again the woods would be filled with their screeching calls.
    So IMO local authorities should be obliged to play a part in removing the urban contingent, maybe set up the equivalent of the home guard to fight them on the beaches 😉

  9. Luke trinder says:

    Is this already in effect ? If so does it apply to wales ? And have you got a link to where to apply for funding as I can’t find anything on forestry commison websit .

  10. christopher venables says:

    All methods should be considered to be used on chosen sites. Trapping is effective, preferably cage trapping, warfarin will also be effective as PRIMARY POISONING, not secondary poisoning as mentioned in another comment. So as this is a “cull” all safe and appropriate methods should be used. Cage trapping is selective, as well as shooting. As long as we have dedicated controllers doing the work, we will bring the reds back slowly.

  11. Shoot all the Gray’s You can Have and have too much fun. Come back next Summer and more Fun Shoot all You can and the next Summer more Fun.Best Airrifle Quarry for Father & Son Team’s.They Taste great too in the woods Cooked on open Fire with Your Boy. With Your .22 Springer’s or PCP;s Leaning against the Tree. The Dog’s Dangles!!!…..Franky

  12. sandra marron says:

    Please could u tell me what would be done with the dead body’s of these squirrels and could they be sourced from farmers or the forest comm for people who ad mentouned above maybe want to eat them thank you for any info would b much appriwcated

    • The Editor says:

      I think it will vary with individual shooters. Squirrel meat is now finding its way onto many a restaurateur’s menu (and many hunters are bringing it to their own table). Some shooters keep just the tails (for fly tying), leaving the carcase for buzzards and foxes.

  13. Paul says:

    I know this has been in effect since January 2015 but what about woodland that belongs to the national forest. I live in the hart of the national forest and there is one wood that is full of tree rats. Am I best to contact them with regards to shooting them without fear of having a helicopter hovering over me after half an hour. I have shot this wood for over 30 year anyway for pigeons and squirrels but only in the last 3 years has it been national forest land.

  14. Ian Mann says:

    Sounds great in theory but in years of asking down here in Dorset no farmer has ever showed the least interest in allowing someone to cull Grey squirrels on their land let alone Rats, Pigeons,Corvids & don’t even think about Rabbits unless you can afford to pay!I am a presentable retired guy but mention Air Rifle use & it’s “nearly get off my land”My attempts to get back into shooting as I enjoyed as a teenager & young adult have proved fruitless so am constrained to target shooting in my large back garden & the odd woodie on my veg patch.

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