The red squirrel is a protected species in the UK and is included in Schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (amended by the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000).
It is an offence to intentionally kill or injure a red squirrel or intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy any structure or place a red squirrel uses for shelter or protection, or disturb a red squirrel while it occupies such a place.
Surveys for red squirrels can be carried out at any time of year, however the optimal time for surveys is between March and May and from September to November.
Basic surveys for red squirrels do not require a licence, provided that you take steps to avoid intentionally or recklessly disturbing animals in their dreys.
Licences for social, economic or environmental reasons (including development) can also be applied for as long as
the licensed activity will contribute to significant social, economic or environmental benefit
there is no satisfactory alternative
there is no significant negative impact on the conservation status of the species
If red squirrels are likely to be present on or near to a site, then ideally a suitably experienced person should conduct a survey. Where squirrels or dreys are found, a species protection plan should be drawn up.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 bans the possession of a dead red squirrel or a part of one. You can’t be found guilty of this offence, however, if you can show that the specimen was killed or taken legally.
A licence is not required to possess a dead red squirrel but it would be responsibility of the individual to show that items had been taken legally if questioned by the police.