New research into the possibility of using oral contraceptives for grey squirrel population control appears to be yielding positive results, with the strategy being touted as an option for non-lethal methods of species management.
Funded by the UK Squirrel Accord (UKSA), the study has found that oral contraceptives could, in fact, reduce grey squirrel populations significantly, with the aim being to protect their red squirrel cousins, as well as tree habitats.
The research itself is being carried out by a team at the Animal and Plant Health Agency and more tests are now underway to ensure that the delivery of the treatment is both safe and effective.
The tests involve the use of a feed hopper with a weighted door, which prevents the majority of wildlife species from gaining access while still allowing over 70 per cent of local grey squirrel populations to eat from them.
It has also been found that body weight could potentially be used to distinguish between grey and red squirrels, so that the latter aren’t affected. Thus far in the study, no oral contraceptives have been used.
Chair of the UKSA Lord Kinnoull said: “This is a vital milestone on the road to enabling forestry to play fully its part in the climate battle, while preserving our native broadleaf trees and allowing our native red squirrels to return.”
Of course, while we wait for this kind of treatment to become available, grey squirrels continue to represent something of a nuisance. As such, it’s important to find alternative ways to deal with an infestation… and that’s something we can certainly help with!
If you need any guidance or advice, get in touch with the team today to discuss squirrel pest control around the UK.