Red squirrel

Red squirrels are rare in Wales. The main populations are on Anglesey, in Clocaenog Forest and in mid-Wales, but there are a few other sites that still have red squirrels. The red squirrel is threatened by the non-native grey squirrel, through disease (the squirrelpox virus) and competition for food.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) gives full protection to red squirrels under Schedule 5.

For Schedule 5 species, the following are offences:

  • Intentional taking, killing or injuring
  • Intentionally / recklessly damaging or destroying its place of shelter / protection
  • Intentionally / recklessly disturbing it whilst occupying its place of shelter / protection
  • Intentionally / recklessly obstructing access to its place of shelter / protection
  • Sale, or offering / exposing for sale
  • Possession

It is also listed on Schedule 6, which prohibits certain methods of capture and killing, which are specified in Section 11. These include using the following:

  • Any trap or snare, electrical device or poisonous / stupefying substances
  • Any net
  • Any automatic or semi-automatic weapon
  • Any device for illuminating a target / sighting device
  • Any dazzling device
  • Any gas or smoke
  • Any sound recording as a decoy
  • Any mechanically propelled vehicle

If you are setting traps to catch pest species (such as grey squirrels), or under a licence from Natural Resources Wales, we advise you to read the following guidance notes: Incidental trapping of Schedule 5 and Schedule 6 animals and Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you wish to carry out surveys / research on red squirrels that would involve offences under this legislation, you must apply for a licence.

Grey squirrels

Grey squirrels were brought to Britain from North America. They are listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it illegal to release them or allow them to escape into the wild. If you trap a grey squirrel, you must not release it into the wild unless you first obtain a licence from NRW. As red squirrels are still present at a number of sites across Wales, there is a presumption against issuing such licences. A licence would only be granted if it could be demonstrated that there would be no threat to red squirrels. Grey squirrels may be humanely dispatched.

If you are trapping grey squirrels in an area where red squirrels are present, you must take steps to ensure that red squirrels are not inadvertently trapped, and take appropriate bio-security measures to prevent the spread of disease from grey squirrels to reds.

Apply for a survey licence

If you want to apply for a survey licence and have not had one before, you will need to show that you have the necessary training and experience. You will need to submit your completed survey and conservation licence application form.

Reference form

If you have not held a relevant licence from us before, your application must include a reference form.

Referees must be:

  • able to comment on their experience of working with the relevant species
  • their ability to use the methods and equipment proposed within your licence application
  • qualified themselves and must have held a relevant licence before
  • must have experience of your work for at least one survey season

We can only accept one reference from the company you currently work for. We may contact your referees to verify their statements.

Who can apply for a licence

Find out who can apply for a protected species licence

Renew your licence and report on your activities

If you want to renew your licence or report on the activities you have carried out under your licence, you will need to complete the survey licence reporting and renewal application form.

Amend your licence

You can ask for amendments to your licence using the relevant forms.

Amendment request form
Change of licensee
Change of ecologist form

Contact us

You can contact us for help at any time before or during your licence application.

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