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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

 - Mahatma Gandhi

Grey Squirrels enter one of last red’s havens in England

The invasive grey squirrel originally imported from America has recently breached the mountain defences in the Lake District for the first time and killed 18 out of 30 of the surviving native red squirrels.

The red squirrels in the Grasmere area were thought to be safe by virtue of their unique location, because the single access valley is regularly patrolled by squirrel rangers who trap and shoot the would be invaders.

However, a population boom in grey squirrels has overwhelmed the methods of control and allowed the greys, which carry a pox virus deadly to red squirrels, to access the area and transmit the fatal disease according to the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

While there are now thought to be 2.5 million greys in England there are only a few thousand reds.

A spokesperson for the Penrith & District Red Squirrel group said they were working hard to preserve their native reds but had killed 1,483 greys recently in an ongoing battle against greys which are not only dangerous to the red squirrel population but also harm other species including songbirds and damage forests due to stripping bark from young trees and stopping their growth

Hen Harrier faces threat of extinction

Hen Harriers are birds of prey living primarily on heather moorland.

But this iconic species is under severe threat, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

There are just four breeding pairs left in England and the species is also declining elsewhere.

Scotland is the traditional breeding ground for these birds but since 2010 numbers have fallen by 9%

In Wales, breeding pairs fell by more than one third over the same period.

Hen harriers traditionally feed on grouse and this has brought them into conflict with managers of estates that are involved in grouse shooting. While conservationists believe that the the grouse and harriers can co-exist perfectly well, illegal killings are almost certainly to blame for their perilous situation.

Anyone killing or injuring a wild bird is committing an offence says Defra and could face jail if convicted.

Read more about this issue on the RSPB website at

Nearly 500 illegal attacks on birds of prey have been reported in the UK over a five-year period, the RSPB has revealed.

The charity said the attacks were recorded on raptors, including red kites, peregrine falcons and buzzards, that were shot, trapped or poisoned between 2012 and 2016.

North Yorkshire had the highest number of incidents during the period with 54.

A RSPB report said it was related to "driven grouse shooting".

In Birdcrime 2016, the charity also said there had been 81 offences last year and it was "the first time in 30 years" no prosecutions were brought.

Nearly two-thirds of those attacks, which comprised 40 shootings, 22 poisonings, 15 trappings and four other incidents, took place in England.

"Of particular concern are raptors targeted in the uplands, especially on land managed for driven grouse shooting", the report said.

"Many raptor persecution crimes go undetected and unreported - the incidents we know about are just the tip of the iceberg."

The RSPB said it had a "particular concern" for birds of prey in North Yorkshire, with 19 offences reported in 2016 alone.

Last year, four buzzards and four red kites were shot, while two other red kites were poisoned. A peregrine was also shot, a buzzard's nest destroyed and there were seven other incidents of illegal spring traps being used in the county.

Read more about the worst UK counties for reported bird crime here: -