Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Don't Go Nuts with Squirrels; Gardens

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Don't Go Nuts with Squirrels; Gardens

Article excerpt

THE announcement of a pounds 1.3m cull of grey squirrels in Scotland to preserve the population of red squirrels has provoked strong reaction from animal protection groups and conservationists alike.

Since the larger, more aggressive grey squirrel was introduced to Britain from the US in the 19th century, competition has caused red squirrel populations to die out in most parts of England and Wales.

In areas where both species are found, greys are able to win the battle for food. They also carry the squirrel-pox virus, to which they are immune, but which kills reds.

There are now estimated to be just 160,000 reds across Britain - with 75% of those in Scotland - compared with roughly 3.3 million greys.

Whatever your feelings towards the grey squirrel, there is no doubt that they can be a major nuisance to the domestic gardener, destroying tree bark, stealing bird food, eating bulbs, and burying and digging up their winter food in your lawn and patio containers.

Particularly at risk are tulip bulbs, crocus corms, maize/sweet corn, strawberries, apples, pears, nuts, sunflower seed heads and flower buds of camellias and magnolias. Trees, including sycamore, maples and beech, can be badly damaged by bark stripping.

Greys will also raid bird nests, taking eggs and even young birds, and polish off all the bird food from feeders and bird tables.

Some gardeners are happy when these cute furry creatures venture into their plot, as for many people the grey squirrel may be the only wild mammal they see.

However, that will be of little comfort to those whose lawns, bulbs and trees have been decimated.

So, is there any way to become squirrel-proof?

In short, the answer is no.

However, there are ways to reduce the damage they do in your garden.

Place chicken wire securely over pots and where bulbs are planted in your borders, under a layer of compost, to stop them digging them up. …

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