A new survey commissioned by the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) shows overwhelming public support for its campaign to protect the red squirrel from extinction.
In a survey of 1,001 people around the UK, 86% stated that they wanted the native red squirrel to be saved, 88% would like to see reds back in their parks and gardens, and 70% believed the government should be more proactive.
The RSST?s Joshua Perry said: ?We believe the government should play a more active role in red squirrel conservation and, by implication, in grey squirrel control. Over the past few years the British public has become increasingly aware of the threat to the survival of our native reds and we are delighted to see from this survey the vast majority of people in the UK understand the importance of saving this species.?
So could this mean the return of the controversial ‘£1 per grey squirrel’ bounty scheme, which was introduced on Anglesey in North Wales in 1999 in an attempt to reduce their numbers?
Mr Perry said: ?We are cautious about a bounty scheme. We have had supporters who have run local bounty schemes, but these schemes have been open to abuse. While there is the potential for a bounty scheme to play a role, we think that right now it is more important to focus on encouraging volunteers to get involved in trapping greys and reporting red and grey sightings.?
Mark Wilkinson of Save our Squirrels said that introducing a bounty is a great idea in theory: ?In the past, however, people have abused the payment system. They started farming greys to collect the bounty.?
Mr Wilkinson added: ?I would urge gamekeepers to cull as many greys as possible. Keepers are ideally placed to control them as part of routine pest control. They have the skills, tools and expertise to make a real difference to numbers.?
For more information, visit www.rsst.org.uk and www.saveoursquirrels.org