Is It Legal To Kill Squirrels That Are Stealing My Bird Food?

Squirrel Eating Bird Food

We know a lot of you have problems with squirrels taking the food that they put out for their garden birds and some people have asked whether it’s ok to kill them.

Firstly we would never condone killing a wild animal unless absolutely necessary and a distinction should be made between the legal protection of grey squirrels and red squirrels.

As the law stands it is perfectly legal to kill grey squirrels as long it is done in a humane manner; the Wildlife Act 2006 states that it is against the law to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal under your care.

This means that you can’t kill an animal by methods such as drowning, suffocating or beating it to death, but you could trap a squirrel and then kill it with a single blow to the head.

However, the RSPCA says that most people would be incapable of killing an animal without causing it to suffer and therefore you would be in breach of the law if you tried to do so. There have been a number of cases where people have been fined for killing grey squirrels they have trapped in their gardens.

It is also illegal to release grey squirrels into the wild under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as they are classed as an invasive species, so if you do trap a grey squirrel you should take it to a vet or the RSPCA to dispose of it humanely.

Red squirrels are legally protected and it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or capture a red squirrel or damage any structures they use for shelter.

Although it can be incredibly frustrating to have squirrels take the food you put out for birds there are a number of things you can do to try and prevent them doing so before resorting to pest control.

Invest in a squirrel proof bird feeder, or one that has small mesh holes so that squirrels and larger birds cannot easily get to the food. Don’t put out food on the ground or on bird tables, which will not only attract squirrels but also vermin and other pests.

You could also try adding cayenne pepper to the food you offer to the birds that visit your garden or use a specially formulated squirrel repellent spray. We have a number of other tips to prevent squirrels stealing your bird food and we recommend that you try these rather than killing them.

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