What is Squirrel Culling?
If you’ve ever heard about squirrel culling, you’re probably wondering what the harm is. Grey squirrels are a threat to red squirrels in our country, not to mention that they prey on bird nests and carry the deadly disease squirrel pox. However, despite these problems, it’s clear that squirrel culling is cruel and inhumane. Read on to find out what is squirrel culling, and why it is a bad idea.
Grey squirrels are a threat to red squirrels
In the late 19th century, the grey species was deliberately introduced to Britain from North America. They have now colonised the majority of the country, and are now the dominant squirrel in much of it. It is difficult to understand the hostility towards grey squirrels, as the non-native species are rarely discussed in the media. The negative reactions to other non-native species, such as the brown hare, edible dormouse, and sika deer, are not related to their invasive status.
Despite the fact that the red squirrel is the most threatened species, greys are still popular among the public. In the 1950s, local authorities were rewarded for capturing and selling greys. For years, the Ministry of Agriculture provided free shotgun cartridges to those who kill them. The Wildlife Trust has announced plans to kill grey squirrels in Britain. The conservationists call this method “cranial despatch”, as the animals die after being shot.
They prey on birds’ nests
Squirrels are very curious animals and will always wander around bird nests, searching for food. While squirrels do not actively hunt birds, they will certainly consume bird nests for their food. In fact, they will even kill and eat the mother bird, as long as it leaves the nest unattended. This is a natural instinct of gray squirrels, as they are omnivores.
Various studies have examined the impact of grey and red squirrels on bird populations. Despite their negative impact, these species are not responsible for a significant decline in UK bird populations. In addition, grey squirrels are known to feed on a variety of birds, but their presence is not linked to bird population declines. However, there are concerns about the potential impact of grey and red squirrels on birds’ nests.
However, a majority of squirrels do not attack bird nests. While they may prey on baby birds, they will generally stay away from full-grown birds. Adult birds are not a concern for the squirrel, since they are strong and well-adapted to escape from their predators. Nevertheless, a squirrel may fight over bird feeders. The first time a squirrel attacks a bird, it may cause the bird to become injured.
They spread squirrel pox
Squirrels can be a threat to the public, as they can carry the disease. A volunteer once discovered two healthy squirrels in a nest, while the other three had large, Sharpei-like swellings. The volunteer removed the other three and removed them. They did not show any signs of disease, but they were able to determine that the animals were infected. They then isolated the two healthy ones.
The pox virus can infect other animals through direct contact with infected objects or lesions. It is also spread by parasites, such as mosquitoes. Although the virus is not transmissible to humans, the infected squirrels can infect healthy ones by coming into contact with the contaminated object or lesion. The disease can be transmitted from one squirrel to another by contaminating food, water, or feeders. Grey and red squirrels are not contagious, but infected animals may have the pox virus in their saliva and feces.
They are cruel to kill
Although killing squirrels is not illegal in many states, it is still considered cruelty to animals. While trapping squirrels for food is an option, it leaves the animals unprotected and vulnerable to predators and harassment by pets. Furthermore, using a homemade trap can cause injury to the animals, and in most cases, shooting them in the head is illegal. Moreover, this practice not only leaves the dead squirrels orphans, but also leads to other problems.
Thousands of volunteers will be dispatched to set up traps for killing squirrels, often in the presence of their babies. These innocent animals are deprived of the right to milk and will starve to death. And these traps are visible from seven to 10 feet away, causing great distress to both adults and children. Earlier, the government blamed grey squirrels for damaging trees, but the problem is localized. More worrying, we should bear in mind that humans are responsible for destroying vast tracts of woodland where all kinds of wildlife could thrive.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.