Environment Secretary ‘right’ to control grey squirrels, says CLA

24 October 2013

The CLA said today (22 April) that Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was right to protect woodland by culling squirrels on his land.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said criticism of Mr Paterson for putting out squirrel traps was ill-founded because of the enormous damage that grey squirrels do to trees.

He said: "We support the Environment Secretary in his efforts to protect his trees. Grey squirrels damage trees by gnawing at the stem to get to the sap beneath the bark. If the squirrel gnaws all the way round, the tree will probably die.

"All broadleaved species of tree can be attacked by squirrels. Oak, sycamore, beech and sweet chestnut are particularly vulnerable. At a time when ash trees, one of the native species that squirrels leave alone, are under enormous pressure from ash dieback, it is vital woodland managers control squirrels to save other tree species."

The CLA President added that the grey squirrel, which was introduced to the UK from the US and Canada in the late 19th Century, has also displaced the indigenous red squirrel from most of Britain, leading to its near extinction.

He added: "For our woodlands to survive at a time when tree diseases are rife, grey squirrels and also deer need to be controlled."