I Love all wildlife and nature especially Squirrels but have problems with my neighbours over my love of feeding them. Need some advice please.

I love all wildlife and nature. I find they both help my mental health issues immensely. In fact being in my garden will always uplift me, however bad Im feeling. So I feed birds and have numerous feeders throughout my garden along with bathing and watering stations. However I also like to feed my resident squirrels who I find absolutely adorable and entertaining with their wonderful antics. They all seem to live together very harmoniously and I can have all kinds of birds feeding alongside my squirrels at any one time and cats passing through as well without their being any bloodshed!! However my neighbours have made complaints namely about shells which we all know will decompose, albeit slowly but they will, plus we all know that squirrels will dig up plants and bulbs and destroy birdfeeders. I myself have experienced both but as I love the little critters and they give me so much pleasure I overlook it. However my neighbours are up in arms about it. I know if they do access attics they can chew through everything, however many of my neighbours have seamless guttering and the eaves are completely covered so there is no danger of that happening. One rather vitriolic neighbour has contemplated killing them 'one after the other' were his words. I was appalled to learn through google that its not illegal to kill a grey squirrel which I find heartbreaking. We are in an inner city suburb where there is no likelihood of there being any reds for them to infect with the illness that has decimated the reds. To my mind you will never find a red in a city. So they cant argue that my beautful greys are a danger to reds in a suburb. So my question is this, apart from this severely affecting my mental health, if they were to contact environmental health officers could they insist I stop feeding the squirrels and what would the penalty be if I didnt do so. I feel so unrelaxed in my garden which was my sanctuary and haven, I feel Im being monitored and reports will be made to the other neighbours. This weekend will be sunny and mild and I like nothing better to sit in my little garden and commune with the squirrels and the birds and throw a monkey nut for the squirrel who will sometimes eat it quite close to me so he can gain another one instantly. However I feel I will be watched and scrutinised and castigated if seen. It is causing me untold stress and strain and I feel like Im being deprived of vital medication to keep me balanced. The squirrels just fill me with such joy I can forget all my anxieties when Im with them. Thank you for reading this, Any advice gratefully appreciated especially about environmental Health regulations.

  • Yes, there can be orders made to stop feeding on Health and Safety grounds. As you know, grey squirrels are also non-native and invasive, especially if encouraged. As you say, they can be culled/killed and so long as it is done humanely in the eyes of the law, I'd have thought your neighbour can do it. I live in a village and loads are shot. They cause tree damage amongst other things. Not sure what sort of damage they can do in very urban settings, other than dig in gardens and destroy bird feeders, but certainly there is a chance the neighbours will get their way.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    thank you for taking the time to reply.
    I know that they can chew on bark and do a lot of damage to trees but I find it so so so so disturbing that they are permitted to shoot such beautiful creatures, it makes my heart really hurt knowing this.
    I realise also they have decimated the red as well but there are red squirrel reserves where I believe that the reds can live in relative safety but I suppose its still a worry that a grey could unwittingly infect a red with the fatal infection.
    As a huge animal lover of a wide number of animals I find the killing of any animal, for whatever reason, very very distressing.
    I do realise that they proliferate in huge numbers and I expect the numbers do have to be kept under control however in an urban setting where damage is minimal I find it hugely distasteful that someone could kill such beautiful and intelligent wildlife.
    I think I may have to move to a desert island and have my own personal colony of squirrels living there with me. I much prefer interacting with my squirrels than my neighbours and they are vastly superior to them in intelligence and entertainment value.
    I am from a generation who remembers vividly the culling by clubbing on the head of baby seals which was prevalent maybe in the 70s or earlier even.
    I guess that was for their skins which probably became a lucrative business like the ivory trade.
    To me the killing of squirrels is just as bad and I know that nature conservationists would argue the case for it, but I just find it very very hard to accept.
    but thank you for the reply.
  • In reply to Daisy Swift:

    No problem. I too remember the seal clubbing. Wouldn't be surprised if there are small pockets of it still going on. Re grey squirrels, there are conservationists who do believe they need culling. As you said, they carry squirrel pox. They also chew bark. Both these things, together with them being non native and in some areas invasive, means conservation is more than just keeping as much alive as possible. Rats on islands is another example. Leaving them just means extinction for more vulnerable species.