In the UK we all know what a grey squirrel is and it would be incredibly rare to hear someone say they had never seen a grey squirrel, especially where I live in the south east I see grey squirrels on a daily basis. In our local park they even happily come up to your feet begging for food and some brave ones will even risk climbing up your leg if they smell something good!
The introduction in the UK
They are adorable, playful and incredibly curious yet the sad truth is they do have a dark side. Back in the day, around the 1870’s to be precise! The grey squirrel didn’t even live in the UK! In fact Red squirrels dominated all across the UK up until then.
Grey squirrels originated in the eastern side of northern America and they were first introduced to the UK by some very rich people who wanted a different looking squirrel to be running around their estate rather than the commoners muck red squirrel that infested the towns.
As we have learnt through a lot of historical mistakes, importing animals from across the globe and letting them set foot on new soil can have amazing effects for the new creature but more often than not can lead to devastating tragedies of the animals that once walked that land.
The introduction of the grey squirrel, a squirrel much larger than the red squirrel and a rodent that can store up to 4X more fat was unfortunately a very sad demise to the red squirrel. As the population grew and grew the smaller red squirrel were running out of food and struggling more through the harshness of winter.
To date we believe that there are around 14 – 15,000 red squirrels and a dominating 2,520,000 grey squirrel!
Current UK laws on the grey squirrel.
The current UK law on grey squirrels is often misunderstood in a very unfortunate way.
The current law is any CAPTIVE squirrel is not allowed to be released. That is it.
a lot of people understand the law to be any grey squirrel that can be killed must be killed when that is simply not true.
This leads some people to believe that it is their duty to kill grey squirrels and sadly not in very humane ways. It is very upsetting to see facebook posts and witness in real life, people torturing the poor little creatures in our local parks and i’m sure this continues throughout the UK.
Pest or not?
When people ask me if I believe the grey squirrel is a pest or not? it is a very difficult question to answer. Yes they did so well here that they forced our native squirrel into a corner. Yes they consume 4 x as much food which not only puts strain on the red squirrel but also puts strain on all life that has a similar diet.
They didn’t choose to be here, they just benefited from it. It was an unfortunate mistake that has been made several times in the past. And has now been noticed and laws are in place to prevent this happening. That’s not to say it could easily happen again at some point.
The grey squirrel has caused a lot of problems for the UK and a lot of controversy whether they should be here or not. But whether we like it or not they are here to stay. Photographers like me are not displeased by this in the slightest!
We would love to hear your opinions on the grey squirrel and if you think they are pest or not? Comment below or use our contact me on our about page.
Unfortunately we are yet to get any pictures of a red squirrel as they no longer inhabit our local town. We will soon be travelling further north to find them and capture how beautiful they are!
Keep checking for updates on our journey to find the red squirrel!
All images are taken Using a GoPro. The best and most affordable camera for capturing images and videos of these cute, inquisitive rodents.
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