Grey Squirrel Cull

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,276
1,376
McBride, BC
A poor game dinner is the cook's fault.
I can imagine hind quarters and little else.
"Squirrel Butts 'n Gravy" How's that for a pub supper?
I'd try it for sure (after 6-8 pints).

"Squirrel Heads au Gratin." Pass.

Bounty on the tails. Keep the fur and hind quarters.
You might find some falconers happy to take the rest.
That's what I did with Canada Geese = breasts and legs for me, the rest for the raptors.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,495
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W.Sussex
I would eat them, easily.
They aren't good Jan, the muscles are taut, the flavour is strong, and not good. Only time I fell for these little tree rats is when I knocked out a nest while felling an Ivy clad tree. The little squirrels were newbies, eyes still shut. I couldn't throw them to the ground so I put them in my shirt pockets and descended. We left them and watched the mum take them off one by one to a new place. Strange how emotions come into play isn't it? .I couldn't have killed those little things even though they were hopping with fleas that I took home with me.
 

Robbi

Full Member
Mar 1, 2009
9,004
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northern ireland
:) I actually had two as pets as a lad, super intelligent and friendly critters :) let them go back to the wild when they got big enough.

Knowing what I know now, I still agree with the cull.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,276
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McBride, BC
River Cottage, huh? Enjoyed the TV series.
Do they maybe upscrew all their food or was it just the squirrels?
Need to be braised, then. Long, low and slow in something like a crock-pot with root veg added for moisture.
Come to think of it, wine braised squirrel should be rather good. 15 minutes to make, 3 hrs to cook, we eat.
Toss all the bones up on my roof for the Ravens.

Under such conditions the tough collagen of connective tissues is broken down.
You can't rush it at all by raising the temperature.
Locals here don't want lamb shanks because they're tough. Agreed.

3 hrs with apple wood smoke, dry rub and 275F in a BBQ and the meat falls off, it's so tender.
Same strategy with all cheap, rough, tough cuts of meat.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,584
653
Bedfordshire
Yes, support the cull. Wish I were in a place/position to participate, but the area I used to shoot didn't have many, and having moved some 17 years ago, I haven't had a place of my own to shoot. The Chilterns are alive with grey squirrels. The damage they do to beech is all too clear when walking around the local woods.

I have eaten them, they were a traditional Southern dish for my grandparents and their neighbours in Kentucky. They can be very tasty, more so than rabbit in my opinion. Clearly, how you cook them, and how they have been handled from when they were killed will have a big influence on their suitability for the table. What they have been eating probably makes a difference too. One of the early successes I had for cooking them involved slow stewing with Madera, bacon and cream of mushroom soup+ usual mix of celery, onion, garlic and herbs. Par-boiling to de-bone can also help. I have done that with rabbit quite often and found it generally improves the flavour, not to mention it nice not to be picking through bones. A lot of people do not enjoy "anatomy stew", and even I am not particularly fond of identifying kneecaps and collar bones in my mouthful of stew.
 

daveO

Native
Jun 22, 2009
1,326
406
South Wales
This is such a tricky topic to tackle. On the one hand squirrels have no legal protection so unlike badgers there's no real legal hurdle to get a cull going but on the other hand you would have to upgrade their status to make it illegal to allow them to live on your land or you'd end up with pockets of breeding populations on land where the owners oppose the cull. Since we can't seem to get rid of Japanese Knotweed, which stays still, it seems a stretch to think we could get rid of squirrels very easily.

Plus you need to remember that grey squirrels have filled an ecological niche and as they say 'nature abhors a vacuum'. If you eradicate the greys you are potentially removing a food source for the reintroduction of species such as pine martins and goshawks. Foxes will also lose out on a wild food source and inevitably will turn on domestic animals causing more conflict there. People talk about tree damage but you have to remember that tree damage is all aprt of the requirements of a healthy ecosystem and a whole host of species rely on it to survive. Dead wood is just as important as living trees in the grand scheme of things. Squirrels are blamed for song bird predation but they're also a key vector in creating nest holes in trees in the first place. Hopefully reds will eventually fill the gap but who knows what other species will suffer in the meantime or if there migth be something like a huge rat population increase to take advantage of the space left behind.

I think the way forward is maintain culling around red squirrel strongholds but the solution will come down to science in the end, whether it is a cure for squirrel pox or an effective contraception for the greys to gradually reduce their numbers to allow the reds to expand naturally. It would be great to see them living side by side and even better to see pine martin numbers high enough to help control them too.

Like others I used to be paid to cull greys about 20 years ago. A local landowner had planted a lot of young trees and wanted them protected. I did a pretty effective job and thanks to geography helping I wiped them out locally. When I stopped though it didn't take long for the area to be repopulated. The numbers are higher than when I started now from what I can see which makes you wonder if the break from squirrels boosted food availability or if the predators also suffered from my actions and can't recover as quickly.

So yeah I'd support a cull and get involved if I thought it was a good idea and had scientific backing. For now though it needs more looking into to get the full picture. Lets start on cats instead since they have no defense for what they do :) Keep house cats indoors and neuter all farm cats (don't bother replying I know it would never happen.)
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,025
118
Devon
People talk about tree damage but you have to remember that tree damage is all aprt of the requirements of a healthy ecosystem and a whole host of species rely on it to survive. Dead wood is just as important as living trees in the grand scheme of things.
I do like to leave a fair bit of deadwood about in my woodlands but grey squirrels will kill a huge number of trees, 100% of small syc for example, and I expect they'd have badly damaged all the young oaks unless they were controlled. I gather there are people/organisations who will not plant broadleaf trees anymore as it's simply not worth their time as the squirrel damage is so great.
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,025
118
Devon
They aren't good Jan, the muscles are taut, the flavour is strong, and not good.
I found their flavour quite mild and perfectly fine, the texture a little strange. The problem I have is they are quite tricky to skin and there's not a vast amount of meat on them, plus I've had a few rather scabby critters that puts me off a bit!
 

daveO

Native
Jun 22, 2009
1,326
406
South Wales
I do like to leave a fair bit of deadwood about in my woodlands but grey squirrels will kill a huge number of trees, 100% of small syc for example, and I expect they'd have badly damaged all the young oaks unless they were controlled. I gather there are people/organisations who will not plant broadleaf trees anymore as it's simply not worth their time as the squirrel damage is so great.
In that sort of case I agree to local culling. Part of the problem there though is the wider landscape management. Habitat can be quite patchy, food sources scarce, native hedges get removed and at times commercial logging can flatten entire forests forcing animals to move on for a while if they can or to scratch an existence on the regrowth. I've seen a huge rise in finches on my garden feeders since the larch woods was cut down up the road and I've had the first squirrel on my feeder for 8 years this summer. This is another part of the cull or not cull arguement: Should we concentrate on getting the habitat improved or restored before we even start to consider contrywide culls and reintroductions of species.

I'd like to see a really thorough study done on grey squirrel impacts. A good population census, DNA tests of predator/scavenger scat to see what food value they represent and an evaluation of the damage they cause and the cost impact of that. There's too much assumption and heresay surrounding these issues to make a sound judgement just as there is with the badger cull.
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,025
118
Devon
I'd like to see a really thorough study done on grey squirrel impacts. A good population census, DNA tests of predator/scavenger scat to see what food value they represent and an evaluation of the damage they cause and the cost impact of that. There's too much assumption and heresay surrounding these issues to make a sound judgement just as there is with the badger cull.
There seems to be a fair number of studies and research about them and I don't recall seeing much positive about them, rather people ignoring how much damage they actually do.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,276
1,376
McBride, BC
I'm sure that the motivation for the proposed grey squirrel cull has some foundation in fact.
You just have not read the right published journals of research papers. Me, neither.

Collar some zoology graduate student to get pointed in the right direction.

What little I've read is that the greys have a better biotic potential (reproduction) which results in
a greater share of limited resources. That's bound to impact the biotic potential of the native reds.

They're introduced. I have no sympathies at all.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,389
876
63
Florida
River Cottage, huh? Enjoyed the TV series.
Do they maybe upscrew all their food or was it just the squirrels?
Need to be braised, then. Long, low and slow in something like a crock-pot with root veg added for moisture.......
You're way over cooking them. The best way is to treat them exactly like chicken:
1) disjoint the whole squirrel into 5 pieces )2 front quarters, 2 rear quarters, and the center body)
2) dredge in flour
3) shallow pan fry until golden brown
4) removed cooked squirrel pieces and make gravy with the drippings
5) serve immediately with rice or mashed potatoes, a green vegetable (preferably collards)

Alternatively stew the disjointed and deboned pieces with similarly disjointed and deboned rabbit pieces and vegetables (sweet corn, butterbeans, and a root vegetable such as rutabaga) after cooking debone. This dish is the original Brunswick Stew that has long since replaced the squirrel and rabbit with chicken and pork.


Both these dishes are excellent.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,389
876
63
Florida
I found their flavour quite mild and perfectly fine, the texture a little strange. The problem I have is they are quite tricky to skin and there's not a vast amount of meat on them, plus I've had a few rather scabby critters that puts me off a bit!
Yeah. They have a less than perfect meat to bone ratio. To avoid the parasites wait until colder weather to kill them.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,389
876
63
Florida
Fried squirrel



BrunswicK stew This one has okra and tomatoes in it as well; I'm gonna have to try that!)