Michael Heseltine, the ex-Tory Deputy Prime Minister who was once nicknamed Tarzan after swinging the Parliamentary mace in protest at a Labour vote, is firmly ‘on the side of the songbird’
Michael Heseltine has caused outrage by revealing how he had 400 squirrels shot on his estate.
The ex-Tory Deputy Prime Minister, once nicknamed Tarzan after swinging the Parliamentary mace in protest at a Labour vote, ordered the massacre to protect songbirds.
The 88-year-old today revealed details of the cull and how he called in experts to shoot grey squirrels who had wrecked bird boxes in the grounds of his home at Thenford House, Northamptonshire.
Now Lord Heseltine, he said: “The arboretum is 70-acres, we had 40 nesting boxes and the squirrels trashed them.
“They just ate their way in. That is the end of the fledglings, and the eggs. I am dead keen on protecting songbirds. So we decided to become a squirrel free zone.”
Speaking on BBC R2’s Jeremy Vine Show, he added: “On 70 acres, we shot 400, we got professionals to do that. Now 150 squirrels come in every year to replace those we shoot.
“There are no predators for them, so if you want to protect the bird population, you really need to get rid of the grey squirrel.
“They were looking for food, I don’t blame them, but I am on the side of the songbird.”
Natalia Doran, of the Urban Squirrel Sanctuary, said research suggested that the presence of grey squirrels did not have an impact on bird populations.
“A scientific study proves it is not significant,” she added. “This is about how we relate to Nature, when we interact, it is a two-way process. There are natural ways of keeping the numbers down.”
And listener Dave Hall, from the Wirral, condemned Lord Heseltine.
He said: “Shame on anybody who persecutes them. I fear that someone like Michael Heseltine bragging about people shooting these poor animals gives licence to the enemies of these perceived pests.
“What’s wrong with squirrels coming into a garden?” He said he was ‘not just appalled, but horrified’ at the thought of killing them.
There are an estimated 2.7m greys in the UK. The population continues to grow.
They have limited protection. As the law stands it is legal to kill them in a humane manner.
It is an offence under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) to introduce and release grey squirrels into the wild.