Grey Squirrels to be culled in South-West to allow Red Squirrel reintroduction


A Grey Squirrel culling programme is being set up in Devon and Somerset to help support the reintroduction of Red Squirrel.

Red Squirrel South West was awarded government funding to establish a management programme for Grey Squirrels between Ilfracombe and Minehead. It will involve culling the animals in a 56-km corridor of coastal woodland.

There are plans to reintroduce Red Squirrel to parts of Devon and Somerset (Alan Burfitt).

Red Squirrel South West told BBC Radio Devon it wanted to "drastically reduce" populations of the invasive animal to help pave the way for the eventual reintroduction of the native species. It said the animals needed to be culled, through methods such as shooting or trapping, because plans to trial the use of contraceptives were still years away.

Project co-ordinator Mish Kennaway said ancient oak woodlands in Devon were "going backwards" because Grey Squirrels were destroying young saplings, as well as impacting other wildlife, including birds.

"Nobody likes killing Grey Squirrels or any other animals for the sake of it, and certainly conservationists don't, but we humans have put the imbalance in nature. In a way we have a social responsibility to do something about that because our native species are literally dying out," Mr Kennaway said.