In the autumn they spend time storing nuts to eat during the winter. They are now regarded as a … It’s illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild from December 2019. One of the best-known is the grey squirrel, which threatens our native red squirrel and causes significant damage to forestry in the UK. You must immediately block rat holes or other holes through which squirrels could escape. Ear tufts. Ministers have admitted defeat in their battle against grey squirrels, and will scrap a law to protect their red cousins. Red squirrels are native to the British Isles. 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. So killing grey squirrels is not necessarily money well spent. In the meantime, my advice to the public is to leave injured or orphaned grey squirrels be. There are also glaring contradictions in what is considered invasive and what needs to be controlled. But the point of rescue centres isn’t principally conservation, it’s about animal welfare and well-being. 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. The Government has confirmed the implementation date of the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019. 1 comment. Their populations have declined as a result of competition with invasive grey squirrels and the parapox virus they carry. 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. But it must be done in a humane manner or you will be fined under animal welfare laws. It’s illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild from December 2019. Red squirrels have ear tufts whereas grey squirrels don't. There’s evidence that pheasants affect local plant communities by increasing the area of bare ground and changing the soil chemistry. Snares can be legally used to kill foxes and dogs can be legally used to flush foxes out of cover to be shot. Edinburgh Napier University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK. 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 best way of culling grey squirrels. This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely … Get advice Get professional advice if you do not know: As such, the grey squirrel is regarded as a pest species and is afforded no protection under the WCA. Originally introduced from North America, grey squirrels are now common in England, Wales and central Scotland. 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. Legal status of the grey squirrel The grey squirrel is included in Schedule 9 of the WCA and the W(NI) Order. 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. Where grey squirrels live. They’re also significant predators of native adders, a species of major conservation concern, and the extremely rare sand lizard. Pine martens could be an effective, natural control on grey squirrel numbers. While greys are actually immune to the disease, they transmit it to reds, for whom it is fatal. We’ll send you a link to a feedback form. Grey squirrels and muntjac may face euthanasia under new EU law. But just about everybody accepts the impossibility of eradicating grey squirrels. Grey squirrel. Grey squirrels are vulnerable because they were introduced to the UK in the 1800s from North America. Too often, when an animal is referred to as a pest or an invasive species, any concerns for their welfare go out the window. You may have seen the bad press a Facebook group, ‘Grey Squirrel Hunters UK’, received in the national press a while back. 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. It’s illegal in the UK for anyone to release grey squirrels into the wild from December 2019. 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. 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. 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. This move will bring England into line with established policies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where release licences are not issued. The introduction of grey squirrels has had a disastrous impact on the UK’s only native squirrel species, the red squirrel. Jason Gilchrist, Ecologist, Edinburgh Napier University. If adopted into UK law, the regulations will force wildlife centres and veterinarians to kill healthy animals such as grey squirrels and muntjac deer. 20 December 2019, 3:50 am. Species information. Write an article and join a growing community of more than 117,800 academics and researchers from 3,797 institutions. While domestic and feral cats decimate songbird populations, they’re unlikely to be targeted for culls any time soon. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is also currently an offence to release grey squirrels without a licence. 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. Many of the UK’s native predators are killed to maximise the density of game birds for hunters to shoot. In 1932, it was made illegal to release a grey squirrel in Britain. Domestic cats are hunting many species of wildlife to extinction. A moderated rimfire. Under Schedule 9 of the WCA, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to 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. Research continues to develop a squirrel pox vaccine that would inoculate red squirrels against the disease that greys carry. Grey squirrels, originally from North America, were released in the UK by 19th century landowners. Under the EU Regulation, it is a requirement for management measures to be put in place for widespread invasive species. There will be an upcoming period of consultation on the Government’s proposed management measures for these species. 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. Where and when to see squirrels and their dreys . Member States, such as the UK, have 18 months to put in place effective and proportionate management measures for listed species, including grey squirrels. Too often the default response to a “problem” animal is simply to kill it. 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. This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely dispatch it. I would recommend alternative methods to limit grey squirrels, and to encourage natural processes that can set a new ecological balance. When grey squirrels are singled out for strict release control on the EU hit list of Invasive Alien Species, why aren’t pheasants? Squirrels can be found almost everywhere in the UK, though whether they are red or grey depends on the area. If adopted into UK law, the regulations will force wildlife centres and veterinarians to kill healthy animals such as grey squirrels and muntjac deer. 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. A Leatherhead-based animal rescue charity has called on the Government to block new EU regulations which could lead to some animals being euthanised. Your hide can be made of anything but make sure it blends in with the surroundings. 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. Rescued grey squirrels to be killed under new law – but Britain's 'invasive' problem runs much deeper. They are better off taking their chances in the wild. There is currently no other licensed poison for grey squirrel control. 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. 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. a gin trap which is a form of spring trap with toothed jaws, banned in 1958). They are due to come into force the day before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. They are now very common and widespread. Greys compete with reds for food and also carry a virus known as squirrelpox. Indeed the law (sort of) encourages it. Bird traps used under general licence capture and kill corvids and gulls. 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? Shotguns have their uses but, as with corvid shooting, I favour a rifle for precise squirrel ambushing. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order will mean that Natural England will no longer issue release licences for grey squirrels. It is perfectly legal to kill a grey squirrel. They are due to come into force the day before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. 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. Pheasants also cause around a million road accidents each year. It still is: if you inadvertently trap a grey squirrel in your garden shed, you’re breaking the law when you free it. Find out everything you need to know about these American imports from what they eat to where they live. When grey squirrels began preying on birds nesting in his garden, Roy Hill thought he had the humane solution. If you ever attempt a close encounter with a grey squirrel you will discover that they have a vicious bite. The total mass of pheasants released annually exceeds that of the entire breeding population of native birds. However, they carried the squirrel … Non-indigenous animals, including grey squirrels (pictured) can be subject to euthanasia under new regulations . 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. The grey squirrel was introduced into the UK in the 1800s. Read more: Grey squirrel control is a legal activity which does not need to be licensed. 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. In defence of the grey squirrel, Britain's most unpopular invader. It has been illegal to import and keep these animals under existing British legislation dating from 1937. The government says non-native species are a threat to the UK’s native biodiversity. PUBLISHED: 15:41 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 February 2018. We use this information to make the website work as well as possible and improve government services. 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 are native to North America and are considered an invasive species in the UK as they are not regulated by natural predators. Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone. The campaign against grey squirrels is justified by the UK government, which insists that grey squirrels threaten native wildlife and harm the economy. 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. In the UK, grey squirrel control costs approximately £14 yearly and the most popular methods used to get rid of them are … Here in Britain and Europe, is classed as an Invasive Alien Species (IAS) which is any animal that is not native to the UK. The solution looks simple at first. 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. Considerable progress has been made and … Tree-climbing nut buriers, scampering grey squirrels are a familiar sight. They do, and so do red squirrels. 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. If you ever attempt a close encounter with a grey squirrel you will discover that they have a vicious bite. We use cookies to collect information about how you use GOV.UK. It is legal to kill grey squirrels and most people do it by trapping and shooting. The environmental impact of releasing a handful of grey squirrels – particularly in areas where red squirrels are absent – is likely negligible. They have been blamed for the decline in Britain’s red squirrel population . 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. Therefore, their coat colours can look very similar. Licences to permit the release of grey squirrels for specific purposes can be issued by government departments. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order will … 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’s often argued that killing grey squirrels is justified as they predate bird nests. Advice Note – Red Squirrels and the Law 2004 by UK Red Squirrel Group. 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. Should the UK commit to the relentless killing of grey squirrels in perpetuity? Muntjac deer and grey squirrels dubbed ‘illegal aliens’ under EU rules. Archant “When I first got one of my permissions, it was overrun with squirrels; in the first year alone I shot 472”. Exclusive: Rescue groups will be breaking law if they nurse a creature back to health and return it to wild Grey squirrels have rapidly spread since they were introduced into this country 150 years ago, displacing the native red squirrel. 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. Read full article . 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. The grey squirrel is regarded as an invasive non-native species following its inclusion under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Country Act 1981. The Grey Squirrel action plan is published online. The solution looks simple at first. As such, the grey squirrel is regarded as a pest species and is afforded no protection under UK law. More recently Black Squirrels, which are a colour variant of the grey squirrel, have been observed in several southern counties of the UK. Copyright © 2010–2020, The Conversation US, Inc. 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. You must also secure any drainage channels to prevent escape. Bruce MacQueen/Shutterstock. The UK’s only viable populations of red squirrels are in places where greys are rare or absent. In the United Kingdom, the killing of squirrels as game animals is illegal, but the killing of invasive gray squirrels as pests is permitted. Grey squirrels are on the first Species of Union Concern list, which came into force on 3 August 2016. I saw the news reports and promptly joined the group to show my support and to see what all the fuss was about. Invasive species cost the economy an estimated £1.7 billion per year. 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. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is also currently an offence to release grey squirrels without a licence. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises dispatching the squirrel by shooting or by a swift blow to the head. You’ve accepted all cookies. 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. 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. There is no requirement on vets to euthanise any injured or healthy squirrels that are brought into rescue centres. 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 squirrels were imported from America to the UK in the 19th century, when they were seen as a fashionable addition to estates. But there is scant evidence that squirrels have a significant impact on songbirds. Mammals; Statistics Length: 24-28.5cm Tail: 19.5-24cm Weight: 400-650g Average lifespan: 2-5 years. Category. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order will come into effect during October 2019. Conservation status. You can change your cookie settings at any time. To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. You must not let it go as this act would be illegal. Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details. Grey squirrels have limited legal protection and can be controlled all year round by a variety of methods including shooting and trapping. 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. Under Schedule 9 of the WCA, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape. A red squirrel coat colour can vary from the classic rusty red to much darker colours like grey and black. Grey squirrel colours can vary from grey to black, but they can also have red-tipped coats. The EU license for the production and sale of Warfarin as a grey squirrel bait ended in September 2014. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. 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. Grey squirrels are active during the day, foraging for food in trees and on the ground – they often visit peanut feeders in gardens. 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. Stoats and weasels can be killed in snap traps. There is no requirement for vets to euthanise injured or healthy squirrels as a result of this order. 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. 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. Grey squirrel law scrapped: Ministers finally revoke 1937 legislation that made failure to report presence of rodent on your land a criminal offence. 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. Days out shooting grey squirrels present a good challenge mixing and matching the guns to the style of squirrelling activity you are undertaking. 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… 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. 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