Azara Blog: Grey squirrels to be killed to "save" red squirrels

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Date published: 2006/01/22

The BBC says:

A massive cull of grey squirrels is to take place across Britain to try to halt declining numbers of the endangered native red population.

Biodiversity minister Jim Knight said "humane and targeted pest control" would cull greys in areas where red squirrels are being 'squeezed out'.

Most reds are confined to Cumbrian and Northumbrian conifer woods, the Isle of Wight and islands in Poole Harbour.

They are weaker than grey squirrels, which also carry the Squirrelpox virus.

Mr Knight said the aim was not to completely eradicate the greys, which have a population estimated at more than two million - outnumbering red squirrels by 66 to one.

But he said: "We must control them effectively now or there will be serious consequences."

Grey squirrels were introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th Century and have thrived in lowland areas.

It is thought the cull will use poison to reduce numbers over the next three years.

The cull is being jointly organised by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission, after consultation with various groups, including English Nature, the National Trust, the RSPCA and the European Squirrel Initiative.

Mr Knight added: "Many people love grey squirrels, but the reality is that they are a real problem for some of our most threatened native species.

Yes, more control freaks who think they know better how to control Nature than Mother Nature herself, and amazingly enough this control almost always consists of an attempted killing of some animal (or plant) in some area or other, which also often turns out to be an expensive exercise with unintended side effects (Mother Nature being a lot cleverer than the average human). Why is it that so many people who allegedly are pro-Nature think that fighting Nature is the way forward? And if only the grey squirrel had arrived a bit earlier in the UK then it would now be considered to be a "native" species (a rather artificial, hence meaningless label) and so sacrosanct (like the red squirrel) by the very same people who are instead happy to kill it. The fact that one of the agencies is willing to call themselves the "European Squirrel Initiative" says it all. Imagine the derision that would be heaped on anyone starting a "European Human Initiative" (it would probably even be illegal in most EU countries).

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