What should councils in the New Forest be doing to control squirrels? It’s true to say that the popular grey squirrel is really a rat with good PR. Introduced to England from the US and Canada by the Victorians, Grey Squirrels quickly moved out of the country estates and colonised most of the UK. Red squirrels that were once native to the New Forest can no longer be spotted here. The Isle of Wight is the only pocket of land south of Scotland with a thriving community. The UK Forestry Commission estimates £6 to £10 million pounds of damage to trees each year from bark stripping of species such as Oak and Beech.
Grey squirrels are considered to be pests. If they decide to nest in your loft you will need help from a pest control professional. If access to your loft is possible from overhanging tree branches or from ladders outside your home, squirrels will quickly move in. They make very noisy tenants and are particularly active in the hours before dawn. Like rodents, they will gnaw on any suitable material from wood to electric cables. Droppings may also contaminate water tanks so if you think you have squirrels for company you are advised get your loft checked out.
Recent studies in Scotland suggest the answer to the Grey squirrel problem may be the Pine Marten. Having been hunted to near extinction the Pine Marten is making a comeback to our woods. Studies in Scotland reveal that an established Pine Marten community will quickly reduce Grey Squirrel numbers as Pine Martens prey on the Grey intruders. At least one has been spotted in the New Forest:
We may have to wait some time for Pine Martens to solve this pest control problem. The New Forest District Council will treat some domestic pests but not squirrels. Contact Chris if you think you have a problem.