A Moral Dilemma

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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,630
3,889
Mid Wales
A moral dilemma:

For a long time my moral code has been that I will only kill if I am going to eat my prey or to protect me and mine from immediate serious harm. I have hunted and fished since I was a child and have always been careful to kill humanely and with the utmost respect for the innocent life that I am taking.

I used to enjoy the thrill of the hunt and that short surge of adrenaline that flows when I was looking down the sights or swinging the shotgun to follow a bird. But no longer; I no longer enjoy the process.

And here’s the dilemma. We are overrun with grey squirrels this year and, although I know that shooting them is not the long-term solution nationally, I am torn between doing nothing and allowing them to do more damage. If I do nothing, we will lose more saplings (but they only really damage sycamore on my land) and, of course, they will take more nestlings and eggs. Can I justify shooting them to save the birds? Who am I to decide who should live or die? But then, the grey squirrel should never be here in the first place!! As the custodian of the land, should I feel morally obliged to control their numbers to protect the trees and the wildlife?

It’s not that I don’t eat them either, but there is a limit to how often you can eat squirrel satay, squirrel pie, or squirrel korma :).

Maybe, the fact I do not enjoy killing is my penance for having to do it!

Some of you will be thinking "what's the fuss about; just get on with it!" and others will be questioning how I can justify hunting in the first place; I feel I'm between a rock and a hard place :)
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
7,022
1,232
47
Exeter
A moral dilemma:

For a long time my moral code has been that I will only kill if I am going to eat my prey or to protect me and mine from immediate serious harm. I have hunted and fished since I was a child and have always been careful to kill humanely and with the utmost respect for the innocent life that I am taking.

I used to enjoy the thrill of the hunt and that short surge of adrenaline that flows when I was looking down the sights or swinging the shotgun to follow a bird. But no longer; I no longer enjoy the process.

And here’s the dilemma. We are overrun with grey squirrels this year and, although I know that shooting them is not the long-term solution nationally, I am torn between doing nothing and allowing them to do more damage. If I do nothing, we will lose more saplings (but they only really damage sycamore on my land) and, of course, they will take more nestlings and eggs. Can I justify shooting them to save the birds? Who am I to decide who should live or die? But then, the grey squirrel should never be here in the first place!! As the custodian of the land, should I feel morally obliged to control their numbers to protect the trees and the wildlife?

It’s not that I don’t eat them either, but there is a limit to how often you can eat squirrel satay, squirrel pie, or squirrel korma :).

Maybe, the fact I do not enjoy killing is my penance for having to do it!

Some of you will be thinking "what's the fuss about; just get on with it!" and others will be questioning how I can justify hunting in the first place; I feel I'm between a rock and a hard place :)

I can relate. Tricky one.

I think that as its a prolific invasive species that has no signs of abatement would aid my decision but I like you find the prospect of pulling the trigger as I get older less easy.

Maybe if you are accepting of that fact but don't wish to do the deed itself for personal reasons ( and I can understand why ) it would be worth advertising for someone to come in ( with suitable skill set ) and do the shooting for you.
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,245
279
Devon
I find it much easier to shoot a grey squirrels than anything else. Rats for example don't seem to cause much damage but the greys have caused so much damage to oaks, beech and even hazel that I don't hesitate.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,652
1,023
Berlin
I am no specialist, but I think a population regulates itself somehow?
As far as I understood they don't become just more and more. Usually there is somewhere an end and not only the predators are the reason.

We have here the same with the racoons. Everybody talks about them, that they don't belong here etc.
But in fact they are everywhere and don't cause any problems.

Non neophytic is in Brandenburg only the ice bear and a few others that died out here thousands of years ago.

I think let them do wat they want.
In my opinion they also have a right to live like you and me.

I am no vegetarian. But I usually prefere them all alife.
 

Seagull

Settler
Jul 16, 2004
828
52
Gåskrikki North Lincs
...

I used to enjoy the thrill of the hunt and that short surge of adrenaline that flows when I was looking down the sights or swinging the shotgun to follow a bird. ...
Surely, and perhaps to explain a little, for the benefit of any who feel it difficult to understand the idea of hunting, ( here I quote Gough Thomas's Gun Book)... "this is the pleasure taken from a good gun, to me above all, the intimate, personal weapon through whose instrumentality I have known many high moments, when, for a space, blood has been transmuted into Ichor, and weariness, hunger and disappointment, have been utterly forgotten ".

But, of course, as the years pass, we learn to be content to have been there once and learn to let go of the wanting of those things.
Regards
Ceeg
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,438
1,397
Bedfordshire
Shoot them, freeze them and bring them to the Moot for others to try :)
Yup. I brought a squirrel stew to the group meal, labelled as "long tail tree chicken" or similar. Clearly people approved because it was all eaten!

If the squirrels are going to eat eggs and baby song birds, I would feel justified in reducing their numbers locally. I have read that the birds had a bad nesting year last year and many are down on numbers. That suggests the birds need more help than the imported squirrels.

If doing the deed isn't your thing any more, there are many people who would welcome the opportunity. Obtaining permission, even a temporary one-off to shoot destructive pests is hard to come across these days.
 
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punkrockcaveman

Full Member
Jan 28, 2017
791
602
yorks
You can send a few to me to eat, and I'll use the skins for fly tying too :)

I think you can and should take a few for the pot, to help keep the numbers down, surely there will be folk you know who would be interested in eating them too.

Alternative and sustainable meat will be big business in the future methinks.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,993
879
Lancashire
AFAIK landowners have a legal responsibility to control certain vermin species such as rabbits or rats. Correct me if I'm wrong with that. Anyway in many ways the grey is in effect a vermin species in the UK due to the damage they cause as much as for being an invasive, foreign species. In that case I'll think morality doesn't come into play, it's your duty to the land to control such vermin if you have the means to do so.
 

Fadcode

Full Member
Feb 13, 2016
2,595
672
Cornwall

Stop grey squirrels taking over any more territory, orders EU​

  • Britain has been told to eradicate the grey squirrel as part of an EU cull
  • The Government will have to increase surveillance to control population
  • Changes will challenge dominance of American species over red squirrel
  • Native red squirrel has seen its numbers slashed from 3.5million to 120k
The only answer is to kill the pest.
 

Kav

Member
Mar 28, 2021
46
46
67
California
I WAS deeply involved with firearms over here. I hit a moral wall after Sandy Hook and was finished after being at our own local mass shooting a few years past. This isn't the time or place to get into that Tar Baby. I suppose morally it could be argued by NOT controlling greys you are in fact 'controlling' native reds along with birds and trees. I think I just added to your angst. Oh, and 'relocating animals' is literally dumping the problem elsewhere and two individuals having to fight it out over territory often ending in death anyway.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,993
879
Lancashire
Do you kill slugs in your veg patch? What about rats or mice in your house or outbuildings? What exactly do you do with rabbits on your land? Do you control anything? Controlling greys, which let's face it are not predated enough and are out competing native species unnaturally. It is unnatural because humans unnaturally introduced them.

BTW I have read on here that in some parts of the Americas the red squirrel they have are doing what the greys are here, outcompeting the native greys. Mustn't be the same reds as here though.

Humans created a problem, humans have a duty to try and correct or reduce the damage. Unfortunately the op is one person in the position to carry that duty out as a landowner and as someone with a gun licence. Wish I could help your dilemma but not local and no gun licence or shooting experience.
 
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TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
7,022
1,232
47
Exeter
.

Humans created a problem, humans have a duty to try and correct or reduce the damage. Unfortunately the op is one person in the position to carry that duty out as a landowner and as someone with a gun licence. Wish I could help your dilemma but not local and no gun licence or shooting experience.

THIS

I remember on a recent Ben Fogle episode set in the Highlands where the Young Frenchman who had married the landowner was talking about the quota they had to fulfil ( legally enforced I believe iirc ) for Deer that had to be shot as a form of ongoing Culling.

I believe the quota demanded 100 odd Deer per year , which obviously for one man to track and shoot is quite the heavy load. Just in physical terms.

Regardless of ones personal views on if its right or wrong to eat meat doing that much culling/killing can certainly take its toll.
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,660
742
Vantaa, Finland
If done with a silenced or at least muffled 22 the shooting is not going to attract much attention. That does not work if the surrounding area is built. I have never tried 22short for hunting but that might be an option if 22 air rifles are not available.

It is a kind of problem that I recognize, haven't been doing much hunting lately. Though a walk in the woods with a gun still happen.
 

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