Grey squirrels do not harm woodland birds

Posted on the 25th January 2010

Researchers from the British Trust for Ornithology and Natural England published this month results of a study into whether grey squirrels have a negative impact on 38 woodland bird species. Such an accusation has often been made by those with vested interests in squirrel culling, namely shooting and forestry industries but to date no evidence has been provided.

The research found that, while the squirrels may locally suppress the populations of some species, they do not appear to cause the birds any widespread harm. In fact, for 26 species, there was no correlation between grey squirrels and bird numbers; for seven species, grey squirrels appeared to have a positive impact on bird numbers; and for just five species (blackbird, collared dove, green woodpecker, long-tailed tit and Eurasian jay) there was a negative impact. However, for the two most affected – the blackbird and collared dove – the evidence was said to be ‘weak but significant’ but the researchers found that overall numbers for these two species had risen nationally.

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