Oct 282014

The Prince of Wales has ordered a cull of the grey squirrel on his estate in an attempt to protect the indigenous red variety.

“Humane and lawful” measures to control the population of greys, which carry a poxvirus that is deadly to red squirrels, have been introduced on the Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The grey species, which were first brought over from America in 1876, are also “extremely destructive” in woodlands, according to the Forestry Commission, stripping the bark from trees and affecting woodland conservation, biodiversity and sustainability.

Grey Squirrel - Photo by Elizabeth

Grey Squirrel – Photo by Elizabeth

A spokesman for Prince Charles said: “The red squirrel is a most cherished and iconic national species, and, as patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, the Prince of Wales keenly supports all efforts to conserve and promote their diminishing numbers.

“Where appropriate, this includes the humane and lawful control of grey squirrels as well as other measures to enhance the natural habitat of reds across the Duchy of Cornwall estate, in accordance with established estate management practices.”

There are 17 red squirrel strongholds in northern England and an estimated 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain, compared with more than 2.5 million greys, according to the Forestry Commission.

Grey squirrels are an obstacle in the government’s pledge to increase woodland cover from 10% to 12% of England’s land area by 2060. They cause tree damage worth an estimated £10m a year, the Country Land and Business Association said.

We invite you to give your opinion whether Grey Squirrels should be culled in the UK. Please vote and also leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should Grey Squirrels be Culled in the UK?

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This article was first published by The Guardian on 19 Oct 2014.

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Nicole Corrado

No. Killing wildlife leaves more room for more animals to move in. Pox vaccines should be researched. In Toronto, Canada, both squirrel species live together just fine.

Claudine Damidaux

non et non ,laissez les tranquille;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;pas de tuerie;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Ross Kardon

Great Britain should so everything possible to get rid of grey squirrlels to save the British native red squirrels. This is because grey squirrels are a North American invasive species. Even if this means killing last grey squirrel in the United Kingdom.

Ruth Leibowitz

Why can't people love, & respect God's sweet precious gifts to us in this world, & give them the love, & respect that they so much desire, deserve, & are meant for in life? So evil, & cruel, & God will punish all the evil people in this world, for their despicable acts.

Leigh Lofgren

Another stupidity and Prince Charles is not the brightest spark nor of much use to be honest – leave them alone and it usually works out in the end. What is this continual fascination to kill everything in sight and love the term "culling" = just another word for killing, pure and simple.

Stevie Riks

Alan Young Ive passed the point of nicety with these bastards!

Alan Young

It is a proven scientific fact that American greys in UK are carriers of squirrel pox. See my post above and read the book for all the scientific facts, although it seems to me that the animal rights lobby will not let proven science get in the way of a good cause!

Alan Young
I responded to this yesterday Eileen but as it's not showing here on my PC I will repeat the gist of it. I apologise if I offended you but that remark was based on your assertion that reds have " moved north to escape the loss of their habitat to man, not the greys". This is blatantly untrue as is your assertion that reds prefer coniferous forests. There is suitable red habitat all over the UK, I live on the edge of thousands of acres of it that is full of greys and no reds. The only habitat left to… Read more »
Alan Young
The Squirrel House. The Eurasian Red Squirrel as a species is native to the UK. The North American Gray Squirrel as a species is not, so if you understand anything about how evolution works you will refrain from quoting again and again this old chestnut, which proves nothing one way or another. Furthermore your assertion that we have removed their "preferred habitat" is nonsense as reds occur throughout Europe in broadleaf and mixed forests. In UK the only habitat left to them where they can maintain a small competitive advantage over greys is coniferous forests. Reds do not prefer coniferous… Read more »
Eileen Welsh
Alan Young how insulting!! You know nothing about me, yet you form an opinion because you think you know more!!! I do know about squirrel habitat and squirrel pox – I also know that some reds have been found to have survived it and carry the antibodies, albeit very few so far. When the "Red Alert" save the red squirrels campaign first started up here in Northumberland, I voluntarily worked the winter in the Red Alert office within the Northumberland Wildlife Trust. I have attended talks on the grey squirrel problem up here in Northumberland which is one of the… Read more »
Alan Young

A very intelligent comment from Stevie!

Alan Young

See my post above Eileen and seek the scientific facts. For a start you obviously have no idea whatsover of what constitutes red squirrel habitatm, and appear not to have heard of squirrel pox.

Alan Young

Nothing about Animal Aid, or any other animal rights outfit is unbiased, which you would see if you sought the opinions of those scientists actively engaged in seeking the truth, which is what science is all about. Read "The Eurasian Red Squirrel" by Stefan Bosch and Dr Peter Lurz, based on their own professional studies of squirrels in Scotland for over 20 years, and over 600 scientific papers by other bona fide scientists, not self-styled animal rights activists.

Alan Young

What absolute rubbish Mark. There is no scientific grounding fopr anything you say, but that does not appear tp bother you. Very sad!"

Peter Thurgood

Grey squirrels are wonderful creatures in their own right, NOT responsible for the decline in the Red's population and in those areas where there are no Reds, certainly better than no squirrels at all.

Iain Gibson

In the UK we should have a healthy population of Goshawks which would be a significant predator of Grey (and Red) Squirrels, but thanks to ignorant Victorians and 'modern' gamekeepers these magnificent raptors have been rendered extinct throughout much of their natural range.

David Henzell

Like everything else the knobs in this country try to total control, squirrels will just be driven underground

Stevie Riks

Cull The Evil Brainless Bastards who came up with this pathetic idea, that's what I say.

The Squirrel House

An unbiased view and well worth reading:- http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/factfiles/Squirrel.pdf

Corinne-Shehrina Lavis

Leave the Nature in Peace…any animal on Earth has the same right than us to live !,

Andrea Brants-Bragg

If you dig deep enough you will find the the red squirrel society promotes and awful lot of "propaganda" wrt the greys 'horrible'behaviour… Look at the statistics, the demographics, the plans for reforestation and the rates at which those which support the Reds are being plowed down in the name of progress… The RSST is a joke… They raise money to KILL, not PROMOTE. It's barbaric.

Andrea Brants-Bragg
Ugghhh… Computer issues! They were considered PESTS and were culled to such an extreme that they nearly disappeared. So the Greys are as native as the Reds when you really think about it! Greys are NOT immune from Squirrel Pox, they succumb to it as well. If the UK would stop destroying conifer forests, the Reds wouldn't be so scarce… It seems they have no idea on reforestation either as the ones they are planting do not contain enough of the trees that comfortably harbour and feed the Red squirrel. They are solitary animals, unlike the greys, who much enjoy… Read more »
Andrea Brants-Bragg

If you look at the history, reds are NOT native either! AND, perhaps Prince Charles is attempting to right the wrongs of the RED SQUIRREL CULL that nearly wiped out all the red squirrels. At that time they were considered

Tony Menechella

Humans need to be culled!!!

Eileen Welsh

It's far too late to do this now. Killing every grey on his estate won't make a diddleysquat bit of difference to the reds, cos there are no reds around there to move back in. They've all moved further and further north to escape the loss of their habitat to man, not grey squirrels.

Robin Edwards

we have so much to learn from the Bishnoi people of India. For those who haven't see the latest episode of the Wonders of the Monsoon, take a look on BBC iPlayer

Barney Jeff Slater

People in the comments are being incredibly abusive of anyone who thinks the grey squirrels should be killed. For peace loving individuals you are quite horrible to people who have a different opinion. Maybe if everyone on the internet stopped getting so riled up then polls like these would be taken a lot more seriously…

Iain Gibson

The story about the pox is not a myth, but it has been manipulated into a scare story by those amongst the conservation community who have right-wing personalities. Watch how they react when this is pointed out to them! Others are well meaning and genuinely want to help red squirrels, but are naive or gullible and taken in by bad science. The received wisdom around this topic needs serious challenging.

Danni Sudiarma

Why don't you move then, if they are such a nuisance! They were there long before you, stupid woman!

Danni Sudiarma

The animals did just fine till we humans came a long and interfered, as we do! Leave the animals alone, and let nature take it's course……stupid humans!!!

Colette Jane Brough

Why does our country always turn to toffee nosed snobs killing innocent wild animals as a solution to our environmental problems?? The badger cull is bad enough, maybe if there are problems with the British countryside it's something we're doing wrong I.e. killing everything in sight! What's wrong with people in this country 🙁

The Squirrel House

The reds currently in the UK are no more native than the greys. They're descendants of those brought over from various parts of Europe to replace those we killed off to the point of extinction, either directly by culling because of the supposed extensive damage they caused, or by removing their preferred habitat. It's not the greys that are a threat to the reds, it's people, driven by greed..

Katie Angell

Why kill a little furry rodent for stripping bark from trees when humans clear entire rainforests for the sake of money! Jog on Mr Whales!!

Jane Carter
Karen Crawford That is what the exterminator told me, but I wouldn't be surprised. Why would the exterminator lie? They are considered invasive and called 'vermin' around here. Flying Rats. We have Coyotes, Foxes, and Red-tailed hawks who take care of the occasional squirrel population explosion. But they still are a nuisance, especially if you feed birds, which we dont anymore. Why I voted for culling, is when they overpopulate for whatever reason, they can overwhelm the other wildlife. And lie dead all over the back roads. We would not need culling here as long as we have a balance… Read more »
Jill Ashmore
Karen Crawford Its widely known that here in the UK the Squirrels DO carry a virus and it has been the cause of the Rds being almost wiped out .. the Greys thrive over here though . I love seeing the Greys but dont think our own Reds should be lost because of them .. we need to try and hold onto what reds we can as they are the ones that are native to the UK
Jill Ashmore
nature is the red squirrels living here its the greys that came over here from abroad and brought the virus with them … by man traveling to other countries and bringing them back . so its kind of man putting right what he made wrong . I don’t disagree with the Greys being controlled to protect our native reds in the few areas where reds are still found .. there aren’t many places … but the rest of the Greys should be left alone
Maureen Ellen McGill

They are part of your native wildlife and were there before you. As for the greys in the UK they are loved by many and should now be considered part of our fauna.

Helen Wood

They’re not a pest and they are now as much a part of our wildlife as any other species. I am sure that the people who want them culled are also the same people who want human immigrants driven out. They are not responsible for the decline of the red squirrels, that is caused by humans, as usual.

Kelvin Thomas

Absolutely spot on, Helen!

Barney Jeff Slater

I voted yes, and I don’t want human immigrants to leave. It’s more for biological/ecological reasons that I think grey squirrels need to be removed. That being said I would much prefer humane control (such as making the grey squirrels infertile) than just killing if that was possible…

Susan Lee

Not voting on this question as i live in the United States and have gray squirrels for neighbors but ALSO have sharp-shinned hawks and barred owls for next-tree neighbors who are their natural predators. In this way there's not too many of any one critter, they keep one-another in Balance.

Leigh Lofgren

What is it with the British and their insane desire to "cull" whatever they think tilt? Stop interfering with nature and leave alone – this is just awful

Karen Crawford

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

Karen Crawford

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

humane killing is an oxymoron 🙁 and the most dangerous virus of all is man's ignorance..

Karen Crawford

Squirrels do not carry a virus, Jane. You and others are just looking for an excuse to kill grey squirrels. There is too much shooting going on in the US of innocent animals including squirrels. You say squirrels have a virus. That 's total BS.

Mark McCandlish
Interesting how the Brits are always looking to "cull" some animal or another after Fox hunting fell from grace with the public. You ought to be thankful they provide a much more plentiful target for birds of prey than your precious Red Squirrels. Then again, you could make another big mistake and import more aggressive types of birds of prey to reduce the Gray population only to find that they like Red Squirrels better, because they are easier to spot from altitude. (Perhaps this is how you wound up in this predicament in the first place!) Then you could institute… Read more »
Jane Carter
Yes, I think they should be culled. They are an extreme nuisance around here in USA, as they chew everything, poop everywhere, destroy bird feeders, and if they get indoors, they make a horrid mess. I have had 3 friends bitten by them, and all 3 had to undergo the Rabies shots. Squirrels, all kinds, also carry a virus that I cannot remember the name of, but the local exterminators say that you have to wear gloves and a mask when disposing of a dead one. Many people shoot them here, as if you poison one, and your dog or… Read more »
Paul Seligman

Voted 'don't know' because the first question is whether it is possible, which I doubt. Desirable – yes, but at what expense and what else could money be used for?


Unfortunately, with all invasive pests they tend to create problems, so they need to be removed, this will be a very difficult if not impossible task as they are fluffy tailed rats and are very good at breeding and spreading their range, so it is a very sad state that we end up in with the need to protect our native red squirrel by culling the cute but pest invader


They did not ask to come here we brought them over. The reds were all killed off as they were also considered a pest. In fact the reds today are descended from European squirrels because they had to be imported. The story about the pox is a myth and the fact is we have destroyed the cone forests, that the reds thrive in and that is the main reason they are so few. Leave the greys alone they have earned their place in our country and they are not pests, humans are!

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