A grocery store is committing "wildlife massacre" by selling squirrel meat, campaigners claimed today.

Viva - Vegetarians International Voice for Animals - accused Budgens of supporting a "barbaric and needless cull" of grey squirrels by allowing an independently-owned branch in Crouch End, north London, to sell the meat.

Viva founder Juliet Gellatley said: "'Culls' of thousands of grey squirrels by so-called conservation groups to boost populations of red squirrels are irrational, inhumane and destined to fail, so it is very sad that Budgens are allowing profit to be made from wildlife massacre."

Actress and Viva patron Jenny Seagrove also spoke out against the sales, saying: "It is unbelievable that our wild grey squirrels are now being killed and packaged up for sale in such high street stores.

"Anyone who cares about wildlife, as I do, should be appalled at Budgens for allowing this.

"It seems that no animal is to be spared falling victim to such companies' marketing ploys.

"What gruesome product will be next to grace our food aisles? Blackbird, field mouse or mole?"

A spokesman for Musgrave, which operates Budgens, told the Daily Mail: "As our retailers are independent, they therefore have the right and ability to secure products that Budgens do not offer for sale, within their individually-owned stores."

No one from the company was available for comment today.

Squirrel meat used to be a common feature of the British diet but has gone out of fashion in recent years.

One modern chef who has served the meat is River Cottage's Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

His recipes include squirrel ragout and squirrel offal skewers, although he said rabbit could be substituted in both dishes.