Is it legal to trap squirrels in the garden of a residential area?

Do you need a licence for trapping squirrels?

Q: I have been told that 
I am not allowed to catch grey squirrels in my garden because 
I am not licensed, and because my garden is in a residential area and not adjacent to farmland or woodland. Is this true? Can I still catch them?

A: It is not true, and it is amazing how many people are told such things by self-proclaimed experts. You do not need a licence to control grey squirrels or set traps for them and you can do it in your garden, regardless of where your house is. 
If you are new to trapping there are some excellent instructional videos on YouTube that include choice of trap, instructions on how to set 
them and legal obligations relating 
to trap siting, trap checking and the despatch of any live animals.

Leading the fight to reduce grey squirrels

The European Squirrel Initiative (ESI) charity was set up to reduce the impact of the grey squirrel in the UK.

A very useful leaflet giving up-to-date advice on trapping grey squirrels has been produced by the charity which is well worth reading.

ESI chairman George Farr said: “We believe this will be a very useful aid to those on the ground involved in trapping and controlling grey squirrels.”

The document contains practical advice on various control methods including trapping and poisoning, as well as highlighting the latest legal positions relating to the protection of the red squirrel and the status of the grey.

An important section of the guidance note deals with methods of despatch and disposal of carcasses. You can view the leaflet here. 

Here is an example of the advice given by the leaflet:

  • Successful trapping can remove up to 90% of the resident grey squirrels. ‹
  • Traps must be inspected daily ‹
  • Traps must be anchored ‹
  • Avoid capturing non-target species ‹ Avoid siting traps on or near public footpaths or areas where there may be susceptible wildlife such as otters ‹
  • If in doubt do not set a lethal trap ‹
  • Carcasses to be either incinerated, buried deeply or possibly sold to butchers or restaurants.
  • The best time for cage squirrel trapping is between February and August.