Renewed appeal as Grey Squirrel war of words continues

A Grey Squirrel in Elgin has caused a tug-of-war between rival wildlife groups
A Grey Squirrel in Elgin has caused a tug-of-war between rival wildlife groups (pic: ICSRS)

THE ORGANISATION BEHIND a bid to save the life of the first Grey Squirrel ever to be spotted in Moray has issued a renewed appeal to save its life if capture.

Traps have been laid to capture the squirrel dubbed ‘Elgin Sweetie’ with one organisation – the charity Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) – insisting that if caught the animal will be destroyed.

SSRS insist that it would be illegal to do anything else – but that argument has been strenuously dismissed by the Interactive Centre for Scientific Research about Squirrels (ICSRS), who say that the claims from the north east division of SSRS about the legality of capturing and holding grey squirrels was “legally and morally wrong”.

Peter Matthew, the Editorial Secretary for ICSRS, told insideMoray: “A number of research institutes have agreed to take the grey squirrel and they all have the necessary licence to work with these animals and have done for a number of years.

“That is why we are appealing to members of the public and the SSRS that if the squirrel is caught, could they please contact the wildlife rehabilitator at the New Arc (Ellon) on 0796 225 3867.

“The rehabilitator can then transfer the squirrel to one of their centres or to a rehabilitator licenced to work with grey squirrels.”

Asked about the claims from SSRS over the legalities of holding grey squirrels in captivity, Mr Matthew said: “Lawyers have confirmed that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 does not allow anyone to keep a red squirrel without a licence – however, it does not forbid keeping a grey squirrel if the animal is not at risk of suffering.”