The grey squirrel was deliberately introduced to Wales and other parts of the UK during the 19th Century. Since then, despite being released merely as a curiosity to satisfy the Victorian penchant for novelty, the adaptable and hardy grey squirrel has thrived in Wales’ parks, gardens and woodlands. Indeed, it has now become so widespread, that it is accepted by many as a natural part of our wildlife in Wales.
It is now clear that the Grey Squirrel’s continued population throughout North Wales is having a major impact on the native flora and fauna, which are poorly adapted to withstand the presence of the Grey Squirrel. Most significantly, the grey squirrel is the main suspect with regards to the decline of the native red squirrel, but they are also responsible for causing significant damage to woodland.
The grey squirrel is having such a profound impact on Welsh wildlife, several conservation groups are calling for radical steps to be taken to prevent irreversible damage being done. The grey squirrel is able to dominate the red in almost every phase of their life and some people believe the grey squirrel is more resistant to disease than the red. When comparing the two, the red squirrel has seen its living area squeezed into those areas as yet unoccupied by the grey. The few remaining strongholds of the red squirrel in Wales only exist because they are conifer woodland habitats, where the grey squirrel does not so easily out-compete the red, or because the grey squirrel has been actively prevented from establishing populations in those areas.
It is the intention of Bodfuan Shoot’s conservation team to decrease the number of grey squirrels by September 2012 and then start a reintroduction program of the Red Squirrel. Bodfuan Shoot is much populated by Spruce; a tree that stays green and in leaf all year round and much suits the needs of the Red Squirrel. Bodfuan Shoot currently catches and humanely despatches approximately 20 grey squirrels per week.