Grey Squirrel Cull

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santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
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Florida
;)

Saved me pointing out you never fire a rimmy or centre up a tree..:confused:
I hunted them with shotguns mostly when growing up. Mainly because we hunted almost everything from doves, quail, ducks, rabbits, and squirrel, to hogs, and deer with them That said, once I was able to shoot more accurately I switched to a 22 for squirrel like most people (just so much cheaper and more fun) But I see your point in a heavily populated area such as the UK.
 

daveO

Native
Jun 22, 2009
1,326
407
South Wales
Thanks fenix. A keystone to the literature. Disease seems an even greater justification. Crop them off.
Reds carry leprosy though don't forget :rolleyes:

A lot of the studies I've read (skimmed :eek: ) seem to be forestry funded and concentrate on the bad points. You get the odd sentence regarding food value to goshawks or something similar but no real studies. Quick internet skim suggests one goshawk nest camera showed 68% squirrel in the food brought to the nest which is pretty significant. I read a BTO study on the impact of squirrels on birds but that basically concluded that more studies were needed. I'm sure as pine martins expand their range there will be further studies to see what they're eating and it is likely to include preying on squirrels (lets hope so). What is needed really is one big report to bring together all the data and find what else is required to be known.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,372
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McBride, BC
In predator-prey interactions, it's a fair rule of thumb that predators never get more than about 10% of the available prey.
That's why prey species are not extinct, locally extirpated, maybe. Even your goshawk is bringing in about 1/3 of kills other than squirrel.

Find a few zoology PhD thesis dealing with the squirrels. I'd expect to find your "big report" as the core in the literature review.
When you realize that you're reading references to the same pieces of research for the 3rd or 4th time, that's likely got the field covered.

All meats taste different. I'm quite willing to try them. At least once. Our Red Squirrel is classed as a fur-bearing animal.
If I were to harvest a bunch of them (hard work), I'm expected to pay the trapline license holder a royalty.
Llama? Never again. The sweet aroma of death.
 

Klenchblaize

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 25, 2005
2,584
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Greensand Ridge
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.
With respect you don't need an overly elaborate study to determine the terrible damage they do to timber but rather simply cast your eyes upon the canopy within any woodland where Greys are present.

K
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,614
1,713
S. Lanarkshire
Tons of grey squirrels back home in Minnesota (and a few reds). They’re great. I love to watch them running about. Would hunt them for food, but I think a cull is just an exercise in futility. You can’t turn back the clock.
This is an island though, and we can eradicate species.
Some idiot complained to aHighland council that there were no cattle grids on the roads to let hedgehogs crawl back out. The council politely replied that there was no need on the islands since there were no hedgehogs there. Back came a snitty note saying, "Hah, hah, well there are now". The eejit had released hedgehogs on islands where there were no predators for hedgehogs, where the birds nested on the ground, and within a few years there were huge issues. The result was a cull of hedgehogs on the islands despite the fact that they are much wanted on the main island, where the ecology suits.

Grey squirrels are tree rats. They're thriving in back gardens and city parks, and these 'reservoirs' feed everywhere else. Apart from them nicking fruit and eating every fresh hazelnut that grows, they don't damage trees around here. There's plenty of food for them. It's not so much getting the estates on board that's going to be the issue, but getting suburbia to accept that the grey squirrels, which are the only ones that most folks ever see, need to be culled. That will not go down well.

The red squirrel is the native squirrel, they do take off the tips of conifers (why the FC occasionally catches and transplants them, as they did to our local park) but on the whole, they are the indigenous squirrel and they suit the ecology of these islands.

Now if we could get our act together and have a major purge on the American signal crayfish.....

M
 

daveO

Native
Jun 22, 2009
1,326
407
South Wales
With respect you don't need an overly elaborate study to determine the terrible damage they do to timber but rather simply cast your eyes upon the canopy within any woodland where Greys are present.

K
and farmers don't need science to tell them that badgers carry TB. Luckily the country isn't run by farmers though so badgers get a fair hearing from proper studies before the government can properly ignore the science and cull anyway. Same with neonicotinoid pesticides but don't get me started...

I don't dispute the damage they cause but you need to do more than just cast your eyes over trees to see their full enviromental value.

Here is a study that suggests bird nest boxes are no substitute for natural tree cavities https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-medi...itute-crucial-role-tree-cavities-biodiversity

If grey squirrels are a crucial component in creating tree cavities through tree damage (I don't know if they are but that is kind of my point) then what wider impact would a total cull have on bird nesting numbers.

So X amount of millions is spend culling squirrels on one hand, Y amount of millions is spent on Goshawk and Pine Martin reintroduction on another hand, Z amount is being spent on trying to make better habitat for nesting birds and all these massive investments could all be in conflict with each other. Or not. but that is what the studies need to find out. You could invest all that money into trying to find acure or vaccination for squirrel pox instead and find that both animals can live along side each other (with local culls of greys where needed).
 

Klenchblaize

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 25, 2005
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Greensand Ridge
and farmers don't need science to tell them that badgers carry TB. Luckily the country isn't run by farmers though so badgers get a fair hearing from proper studies before the government can properly ignore the science and cull anyway. Same with neonicotinoid pesticides but don't get me started...

I don't dispute the damage they cause but you need to do more than just cast your eyes over trees to see their full enviromental value.

Here is a study that suggests bird nest boxes are no substitute for natural tree cavities https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-medi...itute-crucial-role-tree-cavities-biodiversity

If grey squirrels are a crucial component in creating tree cavities through tree damage (I don't know if they are but that is kind of my point) then what wider impact would a total cull have on bird nesting numbers.

So X amount of millions is spend culling squirrels on one hand, Y amount of millions is spent on Goshawk and Pine Martin reintroduction on another hand, Z amount is being spent on trying to make better habitat for nesting birds and all these massive investments could all be in conflict with each other. Or not. but that is what the studies need to find out. You could invest all that money into trying to find acure or vaccination for squirrel pox instead and find that both animals can live along side each other (with local culls of greys where needed).
I was careful only to mention the tree damage element of your suggestion for greater research. Clearly a less contestable approach to fully determining the numbers of song birds lost to Grey Squirrel egg predation would be a very positive move forward but again what I have witnessed suggests it is of a scale unlikely to be off-set by improved nesting opportunities.

From a very personal and admittedly selfish point of the view the last thing I wish to see is the eradication of the Grey as it happens to afford the finest sport a rifleman could wish for. Indeed my tongue-in cheek motto for this pastime reads: "God does not take from Man the time spent squirrel hunting with a fine rifle."

K
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,257
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
European eco system is developed to house the Red Squirrel. The European birds are developed to be able to absorb a bit of egg and baby chick taking by the Reds. The Grey S. eats more, hense damaging the environment.

This is the problem with all introduced invasive species, they damage the environment, hense need to be eradicated.
 

Klenchblaize

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 25, 2005
2,584
124
61
Greensand Ridge
European eco system is developed to house the Red Squirrel. The European birds are developed to be able to absorb a bit of egg and baby chick taking by the Reds. The Grey S. eats more, hense damaging the environment.

This is the problem with all introduced invasive species, they damage the environment, hense need to be eradicated.
And none more so than Man! Before someone else points this out.

Just look at our treatment of birch bark!

K
 

daveO

Native
Jun 22, 2009
1,326
407
South Wales
I was careful only to mention the tree damage element of your suggestion for greater research. Clearly a less contestable approach to fully determining the numbers of song birds lost to Grey Squirrel egg predation would be a very positive move forward but again what I have witnessed suggests it is of a scale unlikely to be off-set by improved nesting opportunities.

From a very personal and admittedly selfish point of the view the last thing I wish to see is the eradication of the Grey as it happens to afford the finest sport a rifleman could wish for. Indeed my tongue-in cheek motto for this pastime reads: "God does not take from Man the time spent squirrel hunting with a fine rifle."

K
I often wonder if the enjoyent of hunting is partly what is saving the rabbit and grey squirrel from being exterminated. Rabbits are an introduced species, do just as much if not more damage than squirrels and have a much greater food/fur but a total cull for them seems a lot less popular. Studies of the wider ecological effects of the myxomatosis-caused rabbit decline would probably tell you a lot about what would happen if squirrels were culled.

This study is interesting actually as I always thought grey squirrels were a main cause of Hawfinch declines but the evidence doesn't support the theory. In fact based on this report a drop in squirrel numbers would probably cause goshawks to look for more alternative food sources such as hawfinches.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ou...16/11/14/understanding-hawfinch-declines.aspx
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,565
937
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Florida
Reds carry leprosy though don't forget :rolleyes: ....
If I remember correctly, so do feral cats?

....If grey squirrels are a crucial component in creating tree cavities through tree damage (I don't know if they are but that is kind of my point) then what wider impact would a total cull have on bird nesting numbers.....
Could you expand on that please? Are your grey squirrels actually making tree cavities there? I've never seen that happen here; they always use natural tree cavities or build leaf nests (I think y'all call them "dreighs?)
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,565
937
63
Florida
This is an island though, and we can eradicate species.....
Yes, it's an island; So is Hawaii (and yours is a much, much, much bigger island) If a species is prolific enough, it'll continue no matter what (they're still trying to control the invasive brown tree snakes in Hawaii)
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,372
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McBride, BC
Tree cavities here are usually the work of the big Pileated Woodpecker. Or, simply a tree with a rotten core.

What was Britain's forest ecology like before the grey squirrel was introduced? Any justification for NOT restoring that?
 

daveO

Native
Jun 22, 2009
1,326
407
South Wales
The theory is that squirrels damage trees and the eventual wound that is left creates a hole that is suitable for bird nesting rather than the squirrel digging the actual hole. This can be from stripping bark from tree limbs that then die, fall off and rip a hole in the trunk or from early trunk damage that heals badly as the tree grows and eventually rots away to leave a hole. If they kill a tree that then stands as dead wood they're enabling woodpeckers to find a suitable rotting tree to dig out their nests in. All theory as I said as it's probably very hard to point to a tree and say what originally caused the damage that lead to a hole being created.