Cull of the Grey Squirrels Official Slaughter Aims to Save Endangered Reds

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Byline: JOE MURPHY

TENS of thousands of grey squirrels are to be killed all over Britain in a bid to save the endangered red species.

Squirrels will be killed by trapping, poisoning and shooting to create huge "buffer zones" in English woodlands.

Contraceptives could even be put into food.

The aim is to save the few remaining red squirrels beloved by generations raised on Beatrice Potter's Squirrel Nutkin and Tufty, the road safety icon.

Ministers also aim to stop damage to woodlands. Grey squirrels, which came to Britain from America in the 19th century, have spread with astonishing speed.

Bigger, hungrier and more powerful than the domestic squirrel, they have forced out reds from woodland habitats all over the south east and are now confined to a few colonies in the north, in Scotland, and in special reserves, such as the National Trust's Brownsea Island. Today there are just 160,000 red squirrels left, compared with 2. …