Monday, January 07, 2008

Declaring War on the US Greys

Because of my overriding commitment to things Welsh, I am sometimes asked why I want to become a Member of Parliament. I do suspect that sometimes this question is no more than a 'set-up' so that my answer can be attacked! Anyway, one part of my reply usually refers to my intention to become involved in wildlife/countryside issues at the British/European level. This week, Charles Clover in the Telegraph wrote about an issue that I would have been desperately keen to get into, had I been an MP today.

David Maclean, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border is calling for a select committee inquiry into the problems caused by' invasive species'. The concern behind David's target is the environmental/ecological damage caused by the horrible grey squirrel. I've reached the stage of dislike where I prefer the brown rat. I've read reports that the brown rat makes a lovable pet - and it doesn't infect the entire British population of the native and beautiful Red Squirrel with its lethal pox and threaten it with extinction. Neither does it decimate the songbird population (even more than the domestic cat), and render it virtually impossible to grow traditional high canopy woodland. There is not a single word to be said in favour of the Grey Squirrel - except 'extinction' perhaps.

Whoever imported the Grey Squirrel into our islands from America committed a heinous crime against the countryside of Britain. Now that we realise the damage that this vicious little horror visits upon us, we should be mobilising the nation to rid itself of as many of the 2.5 million that are currently rampaging across most of England and Wales. A template for waging this war already exists on the Island of Anglesey. There isn't much time to lose if the Red Squirrel is to be saved. War should be declared as soon as a plan of attack is ready.


Jimmy said...

I can remember years ago that the local gun / tackle shop used to buy squirrel tails for £1 each (when a pound was worth something to a young lad).
I believe they were used for fly tying.
Having got rid of 23 of the blighters in one day recently. (They were destroying my bird feeders) I might have been able to buy a sack of nuts for the birds with the profits!
Keep blogging!
Enjoy the holiday!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same about councillors!

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

The brown rat (rattus norvegicus) did get rid of the earlier black rat (rattus rattus). But then that wasn't native either, having come from China in the early middle ages. And there are fifty-some million of the little (some of them not quite so little) pests out there, making them them a serious ecological menace and the most pressing of all the invasive species.

That's not to say I've any love for grey squirrels, which are after all only a form of rat with a bushy tail and a similar penchant for getting absolutely everywhere. And I'm aware that just because you say you're fonder of rats than you are of grey squirrels does not mean you are fond of rats. But maybe Mr McLean shouldn't pick and choose which species he targets on the basis of which others they threaten (although again, I agree it would be a very sad day if we lost all our red squirrels).

Is there any chance of a form of myxie with 100% mortality and extraordinary virulence that targets only rats and grey squirrels?

Elmer Fudd said...

I suppose its the way that the average grey squirrel bears such a close resemblance to Lembit and his girl friend that has led to this crusade.

Glyn Davies said...

jimmy - Good idea - but how long would it be until some smart Aled started importing boxes if chilled tails from the States?

I've found that the only way to feed peanuts to birds successfully is with one of these squirrel proof feeders. We dont have much trouble with the mixed seeds feeder for the finches - or the small seeds feeder for the gold finches, which are having a particularly good year - so much so that I've stopped looking on them as migrating birds.

Half- blood - Would the United Nations allow 'biological warfare'? I don't really like rats at all. The reason I have such a down on grey squirrels is that so many people think of them as cute and cuddly, rather than as the vermin that they are. I would hope that any select committee would look at the American Mink as well, which is playing havoc with the native wildlife. We've just booked a weekend in Cork next Month to visit our liitle granddaughter, but we will surely spend a few hours in the arboreatum, next to the Fota Zoo, where the red squirrel remains plentiful.

elmer - I really don't think we should bring them into a thread about rats and squirrels.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

I hope the definition for "US Greys" stays very specific or UK tourism is in for the chop.