Red squirrels, a beautiful and much-beloved animal, are quickly disappearing from the woods of the UK. Their UK population has dropped from approximately 3.5 million down to only 140,000 over the last 150 years and the squirrels are now listed as Near Threatened in the UK. The grey squirrels, non-native to the UK, are often blamed. They are thought to carry a Parapoxvirus disease, harmless to them but deadly to the reds, and to be more aggressive when fighting for food and habitat.
Intending to return the red squirrels to the British landscape, the UK government has decided to cull the grey squirrels - all of them. It has legalized to “humanely” kill the squirrels by shooting, kill-trapping or putting them into a sack and blowing them to their head. On the contrary, the government prohibited providing any veterinary care to grey squirrels in need or releasing them back into the wild when healed.
However, as the cull continues to be significantly slower than the reproduction of grey squirrels, their numbers don’t go down and the only outcome of all this is more suffering. Moreover, there is no sufficient evidence that the grey squirrels are responsible for the red squirrel population decline. The red squirrels disappeared from the British landscape at the same time as 40% of the British woods were cut down and the remaining woods were left fragmented and disturbed. As the red squirrels can survive only in healthy woodland, the truth is that perhaps our own actions brought the reds to the brink of extinction. Should the grey squirrels be punished for their ability to thrive in an urban environment? Should 3 million innocent lives be ended only for the colour of their fur? The red squirrels can’t return anyway - there is home for them no longer.
This photo series advocates for the innocent lives of grey squirrels and brings the terrors of their killing closer to the public.