Managed by marten
The European Squirrel Initiative (ESI) welcomes the UK Squirrel Accord Initiative’s development of immuno-contraceptives for grey squirrels as part of a menu of methods to control and even eradicate them from Britain.
There has been much talk about how the pine marten might affect grey squirrels in Britain and what impact they would have on game rearing. I was co-leader of a group from ESI to visit two leading sporting estates in Northern Ireland in April 2018 to discuss this with the keepers and estate owners. We visited Lord Raymond O’neill at Shanes Castle, County Antrim, and His Grace the Duke of Abercorn at Baronscourt, County Tyrone. Both estates have well-established commercial game shoots with many let days per season.
At Shanes Castle, greys arrived about 10 to 12 years ago and pine martens about five years ago. At the height of the problem, some 800 grey squirrels were trapped per year off 900 acres of woodland. Since the arrival of the pine marten (three to four pairs only), grey squirrel culling has fallen to about 100 to 200 per year. ESI asked the head keepers about what extra measures had been taken around the release pens and the reply at both was the same: none.
We asked about predation of pheasant poults by pine martens and both head keepers and the BASC representative in Northern Ireland said that, “if a pine marten gets into a release pen, it may kill the odd poult, however, if a mink gets in it could kill the lot”. For me, this was clear evidence that you can have pheasants, game shoots, commercial forestry, red squirrels and pine martens. Charles Dutton, senior forest manager,
Pryor & Rickett Silviculture Ltd