At present the only effective way to protect red squirrels from the threats posed by the Grey Squirrel is to keep the two populations apart. We do this by controlling the spread of grey squirrels. Even where the populations currently co-exist, the greys will eventually replace the reds unless their numbers are controlled. We have a co-ordinated strategy for grey squirrel control across our area and have a team of trained volunteers who work with our network of members and contacts.
Although there is ongoing research into alternative methods for protecting red squirrels, such as the development of a vaccine against squirrel pox virus and a contraceptive for greys, at present the only effective and recognised method to protect reds is grey squirrel control by live cage trapping or shooting.
We are aware that this can be a sensitive issue for some, but unfortunately we cannot afford to wait for alternative methods to be perfected. We hope that science will eventually provide a solution, but unless we act now to remove the threat of greys, our red squirrel population in Cumbria will disappear forever.
To find out how you can help with grey control, visit our Help Us page>> and for information about how to record and report your culls and for a choice of recording forms, visit our Recording Forms page>>
A book entitled Invasive Alien Species Colonisation Prevention: Your guide to early detection and rapid response was published in 2019 by Red Squirrels United. Thirteen case studies are presented, and key elements are distilled in order to provide this early detection and rapid response best practice for the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). An E-Book version can be downloaded here>>