Grey Squirrel Threat Highlighted

At a meeting of more than 60 landowners and conservationists held at Paxton House near Berwick on Tweed this week delegates were warned of the growing threat to biodiversity throughout Europe from the American Grey Squirrel.

Speaking at the Red Squirrel Cross Broader Conference, George Farr, Chairman of the European Squirrel Initiative warned of the increased numbers of grey squirrels being reported throughout the majority of the United Kingdom during 2012 and the threat they posed to the native red squirrel as well as other flora and fauna. 

“The grey squirrel is a significant and growing threat here in the UK and in northern Italy.  We welcome the work being done by the various red squirrel groups to help control the grey and protect the red and it is extremely gratifying that in the north of England and southern Scotland we are seeing real progress.  However we must not be complacent as the relentless march of the grey continues, more must be done to stop it,” said Mr Farr.

“The greatest threat to the red squirrel in Scotland comes from Squirrel Pox infected greys.  The presence of the disease speeds up the decline of reds by 20 times – and reds have no resistance.  It is critical that we stop infected greys spreading further north into Scotland,” he added.

The conference, chaired by Janet Wickens, Chief Executive of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust was organised by Red Squirrels South Scotland in conjunction with Red Squirrels Northern England.

Delegates heard of the important role that volunteers play in saving reds and of the considerable progress that is being made in red squirrel conservation involving a co-ordinated and joined up approach across a significant voluntary sector, with support from Government agencies in England and Scotland.

“Grey squirrel control is paramount, particularly with squirrel pox infected greys spreading further into Scotland.  We must ensure that landowners, game keepers, volunteers and Government agencies all play their part in controlling grey squirrels, allowing reds to return and thrive”, added Mr Farr. 

Issued on behalf of the European Squirrel Initiative by Kendalls.

For more information, please contact Andrew Kendall, telephone 01394 610022. 

Notes to editors

The grey squirrel, Sciurus caroliensis, a native species of North America, was introduced to England from the late 19th century, until 1938 when it became illegal to import or keep the species in captivity.

The European Squirrel Initiative was founded June 2002 by a group of concerned conservationists and foresters. The organisation seeks the restoration of the native Red Squirrel and the protection of the natural environment by removing the impact of the alien Grey Squirrel in Europe.

Its role is to:

Persuade conservation bodies and governments of the absolute necessity of riddingEurope of the Grey Squirrel.Continue to commission research into the impact of the Grey Squirrel on local ecosystems.


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