Thursday, October 16, 2008

Come on the Reds.

Regular readers will know that this blog maintains a crusade against the horrid grey squirrel. I much prefer rats, which they resemble. The basis of my antipathy is the destruction that the greys inflict on what is the loveliest of all British wild creatures, the indescribably beautiful red squirrel. Now just look at this BBC video clip, and you will immediately feel the need to acquire a gun licence. You too will want to play your part in controlling these grey, pox-ridden vermin.

There is hope though. Today's Telegraph reports on page 10 that our red squirrels may be developing resistance to the squirrel pox virus, carried by the greys, which has wiped them out in most of Britain. Eight red squirrels have been found with antibodies, indicating that they have come into contact with the disease, and survived. First time this has happened. If this turns out to be true, my campaign to cull every grey squirrel in the United Kingdom will be replaced by a campaign for peaceful co-existence. Too early for a change of policy yet though.

8 comments:

frankie said...

I became a vegetarian more than 10 years ago because I didn't want to be involved anymore, in any way, of the slaughtering of animals. However, when it comes to trying to feed ourselves from the vegetable patch and we are in direct competition with the dreaded greys - I have not be against my OH in shooting them, as I realise you can't be too sentimental about pests - and they certainly are that. Also this spring, they took over the tawny owls nest box, which I was very cross about, as last year we had enormous pleasure from watching the owls successfully rear 2 owlets.

The last time I saw a red squirrel was more than 20 years ago on the road to Talybont - it ran out in front of me - there was no mistaking it. Not seen a sign of one anywhere since.

So I hope you are right and the red squirrels make a come back, they are such beautiful creatures.

Anonymous said...

Maybe urban pigeons are grey squirrels with wings. Perhaps there's a reverse/forward mutation active here. If so, the UK pigeons might be acting as a genetic reservoir. X-FILE?

Glyn Davies said...

Frankie - the last red I saw was in Cork when visiting my son last year. I don't know how strong today's Telegraph report is, but its the best news I've read for a long time. Although I call for a cull of greys, I know that it cannot work in the long term. A cull may work in Anglesey where it has existed for several years now. The only real strategy is to control the greys until some sort of immunity to squirrel pox is developed. Greys and reds tend towards a different environment, the latter preferring coniferous woodland - so they may be able to co-exist, with some sort of culling policy. The grey squirrels probably ate the owlets!

anon - Wood pigeons are becoming something of an urbal pest, as a result of the increase in birdfeeding. There are less in the countryside because of the efficiency of combine harvesters, and less mixed farming - though this is changing at the moment

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn> I have 'a solution' ... true, not a good one. Buy up an entire stock of red paint, then go out and paint those grey squirrels!

I never took you for "a Red", whatelse is lurking under your bed!

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - Spare cash perhaps.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn, no 'reds' on my side of the wee pond - not on four legs at any rate.

Greys here are so common that one doesn't take notice of them; John Major would fit in here very nicely.

I had occassion yesterday to visit the law library at George Mason University Law School yesterday. I got there just after 6PM because the parking meters are free after 6PM. Soon after completing 20 minutes of playing 'spot a parking place' I was in a scene out of 10cc’s music videos, “I say, was walkin' down the street Concentratin' on truckin' right I saw a grey squirrel trucking left around a tree trunk …” I am happy to report that I felt no urge to paint it red.

PS You would have liked visitin' that law library - let's just say that it brought back memories of college.

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - If I was an American citizen, I would be protective of the greys. That's where they should be. Some idiot imported them to Britain, and through disease and extra vigour, have driven our indiginous reds to the brink of extinction. The grey is twice the weight, and lives at five times the density of reds - that's ten times more squirrel to the acre.

Christopher Wood (PhD not MD) said...

Well Glyn> I'm both a Welsh/British citizen and an American citizen and I'm part Jew - either triple way, I'm no fan of grey squirrels, but I wouldn't harm the creatures, they have sharp teeth!

If things get bad you could get the frying pan out, there's lots of protein in them their grays. I read that some folks like to eat squirrel brains - I even heard there's a human version of squirrel CJD - it's called sCJD! (Only joking ... maybe ... not sure.)

PS Did you hear about the Minneapolis MN truss bridge collapse about a year ago - some engineers think pigeons played a crap role - their droppings may have help cause chemical corrosion of the metal truss structure. Pigeon -> droppings -> dung buildup -> chemical events -> corrosion -> facilitated bridge failure -> loss of life and major economic headache

Someone should hire me for my experience of defeating the pigeons that previously flocked to my balcony - without a shot fired, I defeated them - mum says she gave a helping hand. Btw Glyn, I am now an inventor on a high tech patent for electronic transaction monitoring (fraud). Happened by accident - story of my life.