The Countryside Alliance (CA) says the RSPCA’s opposition to a grey squirrel cull reveals a flawed logic.

Rob Atkinson, head of wildlife science at the RSPCA, said: ‘It’s ethically dubious killing one species for the sake of another. Apart from all that it doesn’t work. There’s absolutely no point in doing it.’

Simon Hart, chief executive of the CA, says this reveals an alarming ignorance of wildlife management. He says population management, whether eradicating mink to save water voles or culling deer to protect habitats, is a vital conservation tool.

The government-funded cull, launched in Northumberland by the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership, has destroyed 15,000 greys so far. Paul Parker, head trapper, said: ‘The problem is man-made and it should be up to us to rectify it.’

The endangered reds number about 140,000 in Britain, outnumbered by the estimated 2.5 million greys, who carry a squirrel-pox virus. The greys are immune to the virus but it can wipe out red populations.

The CA has attacked the RSPCA’s position for valuing animal rights over wildlife and habitat management.

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