As our video shows, if you want red squirrels in the UK, you have to get rid of greys. The grey squirrel, imported from the US in the 19th century, carries the parapox virus which is deadly for reds. As a result, it has devastated the native British red squirrel.
Now the wildlife trusts across the UK are calling for 5,000 volunteers to help save the species and kill invasive greys. They want volunteers to monitor populations, educate children, and shoot or bludgeon grey squirrels to death.
An army of 5,000 volunteers is being sought to save the red squirrel from extinction by monitoring populations, educating children – and bludgeoning grey squirrels to death.
The recruitment drive is focused on areas of northern England, north Wales and Northern Ireland, which are the last outposts of the red squirrel in the UK.
More than 2.5 million grey squirrels are continuing to spread north through England and into Scotland, out-competing the 140,000 remaining reds.
Dr Cathleen Thomas, programme manager of Red Squirrel United, a conservation partnership started in 2015, predicts that the red squirrel could be extinct within as little as 35 years. She told The Guardian newspaper: “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and we don’t expect people to do it if they are not comfortable but we do have volunteers who carry out the dispatch themselves.
“We do get animal rights activists saying we shouldn’t kill anything because all living creatures have a right to life and to some extent I agree but if we don’t do anything the reds will go extinct and in quite a horrific way.”