Grey Control

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 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.

Although there is ongoing research into alternative methods for protecting red squirrels, for example, a contraceptive for greys, at present the only effective and recognised method to protect reds in areas like ours 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.

We appeal to everyone with an interest in the countryside – farmers, landowners, residents, gamekeepers, foresters, and all those involved in country pursuits – to join us in widespread action to reduce grey squirrel numbers across South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

It’s not just in rural areas that grey squirrels are a threat. Greys will thrive in towns and villages and holiday parks on the rich pickings from bird feeders, and then spread out into the surrounding countryside.  Unless we can take swift action to remove the grey squirrels from these populated areas, the reds will stand little chance of re-establishing.

To make a difference we need practical help from local people right across our area.

What you can do:

Get Involved

We can provide advice and support to those who are just starting out with grey control, and any necessary training for volunteers.

If you’d like to get involved with grey control on behalf of Westmorland Red Squirrels, please make contact with our Secretary:


We would like to hear from anyone who is  controlling greys – to build a picture of what is happening across the area and to identify any gaps. For how to record, visit our Recording Forms page>>

Lone Working Policy and Risk Assessment

Westmorland Red Squirrels is mindful of the welfare of its volunteers and rangers, and of its own reputation as a responsible organisation.  For their own well being and safety, all volunteers and rangers are reminded of the need actively to manage their own risks. Anyone working on behalf of Westmorland Red Squirrels must carry out risk assessments and take steps to eliminate or reduce the risk as far as possible.

Therefore, before undertaking any grey control on behalf of Westmorland Red Squirrels, all volunteers and rangers are required to read and comply with the Lone Working Policy  including Annex 1, the Westmorland Red Squirrels Risk Assessment Form. They should confirm that they have done so in writing to the Westmorland Red Squirrels’ Secretary via email to:  or in hard copy posted to Westmorland Red Squirrels’ registered address.

Both documents are downloadable via the links below.

Westmorland Red Squirrels Lone Working Policy>>

Westmorland Red Squirrels Risk Assessment Form – Annex 1>>

Grey Control Publications and Guidelines

Grey Squirrel control with live capture traps – trapping guidance from BASC can be downloaded here>>

The Forestry Commission has produced a technical note available online giving detailed guidance for controlling grey squirrels, Controlling grey squirrels in forests and woodlands in the UK >>

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>>

Further publications giving information on red squirrel conservation are available via our Resources>> page.

Training Courses

Various training courses relevant to grey control are run from time to time. For further details and to express an interest, contact our Secretary: 


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