A woman from Epsom who rescued squirrel babies she found abandoned near her home recently was informed helping them would be illegal due to the squirrel's species.

Out cycling with her young daughter in the area, the pair found two apparently orphaned, newborn squirrels underneath a tree.

On waiting without result for a parent squirrel to return, they  decided to take in the babies and call on any animal rescue service they could find to help out.

Unfortunately, the Epsom pair were told that they could not seek any help at all as, due to a new piece of government legislation, grey squirrels are now officially recognized as an invasive species.

Surrey Comet: Baby grey squirrel found on a wall in Epsom. Image: Urban SquirrelsBaby grey squirrel found on a wall in Epsom. Image: Urban Squirrels

"When the mother contacted a local wildlife rescue centre, she was told that, because of new legislation, the centre could not take in the little squirrels and they would just have to be left on the wall" where they were found," Natalia Doran of Urban Squirrels told the Surrey Comet.

Wildlife rescue centres in the UK are mandated to either lock up or kill grey squirrels that come to them rather than help them be released back into the wild under a revision of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) brought in in December 2019.

Simon of Wildlife Aid, based in Leatherhead, told the Comet that the introduction of the act would do little to change the picture of grey squirrels as a species here in the UK, as it only impacted several hundred wildlife centres while the population of the animal is thought to be around 2.5 million.

Surrey Comet: Baby grey squirrel found abandoned in Epsom. Image: Urban Squirrels Baby grey squirrel found abandoned in Epsom. Image: Urban Squirrels

"I think it's ridiculous considering there were only around 700 licenses in the UK to care for and release grey squirrels back into the wild, but with a population of several million grey squirrels the new rules won't make a difference.

"If they are brought into us we either have to kill them or cage them. It would be like us trying to live out our lives in a telephone box, it's not what wildlife protection is there for," he added.

Despite the new legislation penalising groups like Wildlife Aid and Urban Squirrels who want to protect the animals, there are still steps residents can take to make sure young squirrels in trouble have the best chance in life.

"It's far better for any young wild animal like this to be with its parents.

"What we say to people who find animals like this in trouble is: 'put them in an (open) box, put them near where they were found, and 90 per cent of the time the adults will come back and take them somewhere else,'" Simon said.