Five grey squirrels found dead by dog walker in woodland near Carnforth as calls are made for ban on culling
A dog walker made the grisly discovery alongside some traps nearby whilst out walking in Hyning Scout Wood in Warton on July 1.
The Woodland Trust, which manages Hyning Scout Wood, said its grey squirrel management was conducted by external independent contractors, and is part of a wider project to recolonise the area with red squirrels.
But it apologised for any distress caused to visitors, and is now investigating the circumstances.
Natalia Doran from Urban Squirrels, a licensed grey squirrel rescue and advocacy group, said that she was opposed to the culling of grey squirrels, and points out that the native red squirrels are not endangered species.
She said: "Opponents of culls point out that red squirrels are not an endangered species, their demise in the UK is due to a number of factors, the main of which is habitat destruction.
"Grey squirrels, though an introduced species, are far more adaptable than their red cousins, and can therefore cope much better with the conditions of deforestation that exist in this country today.
"So should we kill grey squirrels, who have simply won the game of the survival of the fittest, and continue to artificially maintain red squirrels (themselves products of recent introductions from Scandinavia), simply because we think that the reds are cuter?
"Why not let nature take its course and choose the right animal?
"Grey squirrels do enjoy a rather ambivalent reputation in this country.
"Some people adore the intelligent agile creatures and are endlessly entertained by their antics, others resent their non-native status.
"But whatever your opinion of grey squirrels might be, you are unlikely to appreciate the sight of an impromptu morgue in a popular beauty spot."
Animal protection enthusiasts are therefore calling on the Woodland Trust to stop the cruel culling of grey squirrels.
"All the more so because it is a pointless process anyway. The ultimate in digging holes and filling them up again.
"Research shows that grey squirrel population re-establishes itself in a matter of weeks, through breeding as well as migration."
A spokesperson for the Woodland Trust said: “We do have management of grey squirrels on going at Hyning Scout Wood, undertaken by external independent contractors, in the woodland as part of a large landscape scale project within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a project started in 2015 to encourage the spread and re-colonisation of our native red squirrels into the concentration of ancient woodlands within the Arnside area.
"This project aims to extend the range of the red squirrels from South Cumbria which has been lost or much reduced with the expansion of the grey squirrel population.
“We set strict guidelines as to how and when this management takes place which includes removing carcasses and are investigating whether the recent management of squirrels at Hyning Scout by the contractors has fallen below these standards. If it has, we will be taking action. We apologise for any harm or distress this may have caused visitors to our woodland.
“Woodland Trust policies are predominantly aimed at mitigating against the impact of the grey squirrel, rather than complete eradication.
"In red squirrel areas we work with local projects and people as well larger groups such as Red Squirrels Northern England and the UK Squirrel Accord.”