Results of an annual survey commissioned by the European Squirrel Initiative (ESI) published this week indicate that the UK public is increasingly aware of the damage grey squirrels do — and a significant majority of the population backs control of grey squirrels to protect the threatened native red squirrel.

According to the survey, which is the sixth of its kind commissioned by the ESI, 74.5 per cent of the public is aware of the threat that grey squirrels pose to reds. This represents a six per cent increase over last year’s survey figures.

Significantly, 68.5 per cent of those questioned felt that the numbers of grey squirrel should be controlled in some way in order to preserve from extinction and restore the UK’s red squirrel population.

“These are encouraging results and show the high awareness and recognition of the threat posed by greys,” Miles Barne, chairman of the ESI, told Shooting Times, adding, “it is also encouraging to see that there is a real demand among the public to control the grey squirrel in some way to protect our native red.”

The survey highlighted some surprising results concerning the attitudes of the young to squirrels — 69.7 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds questioned were in favour of grey squirrel control, a fi gure that is higher than the national average. “It is encouraging to see that among the younger respondents there is such a realisation of the problem and a recognition that grey squirrel control is the most effective way of preserving and restoring the red squirrel,” commented Mr Barne. The survey was conducted independently on behalf of the ESI by NEMS Market Research.

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