Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Death to squirrels

As is usually the case I ended up buying yesterday's Guardian on the way home from work at 10.30pm and not reading it till I was drying my hair this morning. Anyway, I was reading about plans to cull grey squirrels because they're driving red squirrels out Scotland. (Scotland being the last refuge of the red squirrel apart from the Isle of Wight where grey squirrels are shot on sight.* Although it would be easier just not to let them on the ferry.

But red squirrels are not an endangered species; there are plenty of them elsewhere in Europe. So why is it so important that we have them in the UK? Yes, they're cute. Probably a bit cuter than grey ones. But is that grounds for treating one type as superior to the other? (One of the reasons I became a vegetarian - why is it ok to eat cows and not kittens? Unless you're George Bush of course, who doesn't care). Here's another suggestion as to what to do with greys - eat the enemy.

* artistic licence - they're trapped not shot.


The Penguin said...

Way ahead of you on this one, Kerry.

The Penguin

Dave H said...

(I wasn’t going to bother you today Kerry, but in view of your subject I will try and make a non-Troll comment)

I mercilessly shoot and kill greys with spring traps because they:

A) take over my barn owl boxes, deny them to the owls and damage them. I have invested much time and money in these boxes (in case you don’t know they have to be large -almost like little dog kennels). That alone is enough for me to eliminate them. I am very fond of barn owls.

B) attack eggs and nestling birds. I have seen attempts to gnaw into the smaller nestboxes. Squirrels are clever and birds that make open nests, like robins and blackbirds, don’t stand chance. Many native animals prey on nests of course but few will physically attack a box.

C) kill newly planted trees by barking them (I haven’t had this problem yet but others have been plagued by it and I have planted hundreds of pounds worth of trees).

Of course, I don’t know if reds would be the same. It just so happens the only squirrels around are greys (I saw one black variant and shot that too. Apparently their higher testosterone levels make them more aggressive so I felt threatened). I think reds do go for nests.

Unlike the neighbours I don’t have any trouble with them on the bird feeders, either. Word of my murderous nature has got around.

I’ve eaten plenty of wild animals but to me squirrels just look like rats. One day I may overcome my sense of disgust. The body seems very dense and meaty –if you drop it into water it sinks like a stone –it is a shame to waste the meat if I’m killing them anyway.

I could imagine that in a city they do no real harm, and that just leaves people to observe their undoubted cuteness and intelligence. It’s easy to see how some people become fond of them, especially towndwellers. I’m just not one of them.

Last summer, to my utter delight, for the first time I saw a barn owl hunting in the meadow next to the boxes. Later it was joined by another, plainly they were raising a brood though not in boxes. I had high hopes that one of the boxes might be occupied this year. Sadly, the recent prolonged cold spell followed immediately by flooding will almost certainly have done for them.

Kerry said...

You felt threatened? By a squirrel?

Remember Remember said...

Townies should really spend at least a couple of years working on a farm, they might then discover that fluffy isn't necessarily cute and innocent, especially to other fluffy/furry/feathery things. Each dead Squirrel most likely means loads of innocent little birdies will be born. As for rabbits, each dead one means more food for vegetarians.

Dave H said...

It was a big-girls-blouse/testosterone joke: a male thought that a tiny animal might be aggressive because of testosterone so he shot it.

Regarding squirrelicide generally, one of the owlboxes can transmit video pictures. This was not technically facile from a box 6 metres up a tree and 100 metres down the garden. There is no way I'm going to allow critters that habitually chew everything in sight to dwell there.