1,000 signatures reached
To: The Forestry Commission, Elizabeth Truss MP, Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner, Daniel Calleja Crespo, EU Director-General for Environment
Stop the EU & UK Squirrel Cull
Tell EU & UK Politicians and the UK Forestry Commission to stop financing the cruel and unjustifiable killing of Grey Squirrels from the money of taxpayers of all EU countries.
Why is this important?
EU Politicians have introduced a new law obliging the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy to organise the killing of hundreds of thousands of grey squirrels, every year from 2016, using methods that include poisoning, bludgeoning to death or trapping and shooting. In the UK the Forestry Commission has drawn up new plans obliging UK landowners to carry out this cull if they wish to receive improvement grants; they would be paid £100 per hectare per year for five years using taxpayers’ money.
In March 2014, Oliver Heald, the Solicitor General, told MPs that eradicating the grey squirrel was "no longer considered feasible".
Representatives of animal welfare organisations, like Mimi Bekhechi (director of PETA UK) and Andrew Tyler (director of Animal Aid), have stated many times that killing grey squirrels is an inhumane, ecologically and socially damaging practice, and is an absolutely pointless cruelty waged against beautiful animals.
Andrew Tyler said, “The grey squirrel is hated by members of certain groups, most notably those with shooting or forestry interests and some 'conservationists' who believe that the mass killing of greys is justifiable in their quest to boost the numbers of red squirrels”. "People have been responsible for wiping out the red squirrel, it's an excuse to blame the grey squirrel. The damage they do is exaggerated. Attempts to purge the landscape of them in the past have failed and this will fail too."
Rob Atkinson, the head of wildlife science at the RSPCA, said: "It's ethically dubious killing one species for the sake of another. Up until the 1970s you could get a licence to kill red squirrels, so they were the baddies then, now it's grey squirrels. Apart from all that it doesn't work. There's absolutely no point in doing it."
Killing squirrels is to be conducted even in the time of year when females nurse their dependent kittens. Killing thousands of nursing females will cause tens of thousands of baby squirrels to die of starvation. Starving animals is a torture in breach of animal welfare standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health.
Scientific research has dispelled many myths about grey squirrels, yet these are still used to ‘justify’ the killing of grey squirrels.
The red squirrel population in the UK has been declining for centuries now for a variety of reasons. Their habitat is coniferous woodland, their main diet, seeds from pine cones; these forests now exist mainly in Scotland, England has more deciduous woodland, which is best suited to grey squirrels, This can clearly be seen in the Forestry Commission's 1998 research data on grey and red squirrel numbers across the UK.
A huge factor in the decline of red squirrels is the destruction of millions of acres of woodland by humans for agriculture, housing and industrial purposes. As a species, reds are far less adaptable than the grey, and have suffered badly when their habitat has been destroyed by us. Red squirrels will not thrive unless we give them the correct habitat, which will, in turn, limit the greys.
These innocent creatures (the grey squirrel) were brought from their native country for the entertainment of wealthy landowners in the 1870s. They have not killed the red squirrels. Up to the late 1970s I remember that red squirrels were being slaughtered by landowners who blamed them for bark stripping and the loss of songbird eggs amongst other things, now it is fashionable to protect them, so blame has been transferred to the grey squirrel. The two species do not share the same habitat or food in most cases, there is no decent or logical justification for this cull.
As with badgers there is no logic in the squirrel cull, which will cause untold suffering to a much loved animal and the main beneficiaries are people in the commercial business of killing wild animals.