The UK Government has officially sanctioned the killing of Americans. I could have said this action is a sign of the change since the British Parliament refused to support Obama over Syria.
The UK Government has officially sanctioned the killing of Americans.
This was not however a change of government policy over this issue. However the legislation has been in force now for over 70 years.
For fourteen years the UK government were even giving out shotgun cartridges free to around 7,000 registered shooting clubs. The clubs were formed specifically to kill these American invaders of our country.
The cash bounty paid for the killing is no longer being paid. However the legislation encouraging the killing of these Americans is still live.
Relax a little. We are not shooting American tourists with proper passports coming in through formal immigration channels.
What we are talking about is the growing population of Grey Squirrels which is leading to the eradication of the native red squirrels. The latter are now reduced to small pockets of the UK countryside in particular the Scottish highlands. The Grey Squirrels were originally brought to the UK from the USA to live in Zoos at the beginning of the 19th Century. Unfortunately some escaped and thrived over the years spreading across the country.
Whilst I would delight at seeing both Red and Grey Squirrels roaming around our forests and parklands the reality is that there are very few places where the two varieties can live side by side.
As the Grey Squirrel is moving north it is actually leading to the death of our native Red Squirrel to the point where official statistics suggest they are outnumbering the red by 66 to 1.
There are two main reasons for this happening.
- The nature of the Grey Squirrel is to be more aggressive than it’s UK red cousin. (Maybe they were brought up watching too many John Wayne films?) Or maybe it is the fact they are “Red” and American politicians have made them think that all “reds” are communist and therefore bad.
- The Grey also carry a squirrel pox virus which is thought to be spread through saliva or scent-marking secretions at feeding or scent-marking sites. It could also be from fleas that pass from one animal to another. The Grey Squirrel is now known to be immune from the virus but any Red Squirrel picking up the virus is likely to die within two weeks. Squirrels with squirrelpox develop wet, discharging lesions or scabs around the eyes, ears, mouth, feet and genitalia. They then become increasingly lethargic as the disease progresses due to their inability to feed properly.
Various moves have been tried to limit the spread the Grey squirrel but the population is growing fast with a corresponding fall in the numbers of the Red Squirrel. Since 1933 it is also illegal to release any grey squirrel back in the wild. That means even those caught in “humane” traps can only be killed.
Discussions have also taken place about using contraception pills for the grey squirrels. But how can you ensure that these animals will remember to take them on a daily basis? How do you ensure only grey squirrels take them and not red ones?
One of the few places to still see numbers of Red squirrels living wild is in the Scottish Highlands. Even the Scottish Central Belt has succumbed and there are now very few red squirrels living there. Almost all of England and Wales has already been taken over by the American Grey Squirrel except for some small patches including islands off the mainland.
For the record I am against the killing of any wild animal but I can fully understand why we need to take to take measures against the eradication of the lovely red squirrel.