The British Association for Shooting and Conservation in Northern Ireland is asking farmers to help protect the native red squirrel as part of a joint pest control scheme run by BASC NI and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
The scheme is organised so that any UFU farmer member that has a problem with grey squirrels on their land will be put in touch with a BASC member that has the ability to reduce the squirrel numbers. BASC NI director, Tommy Mayne, said “Protecting the small populations of reds has become a priority for BASC NI and we are delighted that the UFU is supportive of our member’s efforts to halt the spread of the grey squirrels.”
Ian Marshall, UFU deputy president, added, “The aim of this scheme is to help put farmers in touch with people who shoot so they can help reduce the damage being caused by pests. The pest control scheme is provided free of charge and has proved popular, providing farmers with much needed help with pests which are damaging crops, taking livestock and spreading disease.”
Launched in August 2011, the scheme has already seen BASC NI members help, covering scenarios such as pigeons in grain sheds and foxes taking poultry.
Dr. Declan Looney, chairman of the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (which is chaired by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency) stated, “The fate of the remaining red squirrels lies in the hands of the landowners and volunteers that are working to save them. Grey squirrels compete with reds for both food and territory and carry a virus which devastates local red populations. The only way to secure the red squirrel’s future is to reduce the grey population as much possible. Grey squirrels are capable of travelling across farms, parks and gardens using hedgerows and farm woodland as transport corridors. Stopping this movement across the country helps the reds. The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum supports the humane control of grey squirrels in Northern Ireland for the good of our native reds.”
If you are interested in joining the scheme you can contact the BASC Northern Ireland team on 028 9260 5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your BASC or UFU membership number, postcode and phone number. BASC NI will put UFU members in touch with their closest registered BASC members.
Farmers who are not UFU members but want to take advantage of the scheme can join the UFU by phoning 028 9037 0222.