Invasive grey squirrels are causing an unprecedented amount of concern to people who look after trees in parks and gardens, the charity Tree Advice Trust has found.
Trust adviser Harry Pepper says calls to its helpline about grey squirrel damage were up more than 50 per cent between April and October 2005.
He added that favourable weather conditions in 2004, which produced a “bumper crop” of tree seeds, meant grey squirrels were thriving. There are now more than 2.5 million in the UK living at up to 10-times greater density than Britain’s 160,000 native red squirrels. Park managers cite greys as one of the biggest pests they have to deal with.
Pepper said despite a poor autumn for seeds in 2005, with trees “exhausted” following 2004’s massive output, grey squirrel populations do not trough because they have adapted to scavenging from bins and bird tables.
But Forest Research squirrel management programme leader Brenda Mayle said park managers can reduce greys under controlled circumstances by using the poison warfarin. Recent EU Plant Protection Directorate rules mean, by April 2007, it will be available only as a pre-mix and not as a concentrate.
L See www.forestresearch.gov. uk/greysquirrels or Tree Advice Trust helpline on 09065 161147.
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