Sunday, April 8, 2012

More On The British War On Grey Squirrels

Returning to the tragic war against the gray (or grey) squirrel in the UK, I want to bring attention to an interesting and informative web site, We're As Native As You, created by Professor Acorn, a grey squirrel who lives in Great Britain.

Professor Acorn
Professor Acorn's site presents a number of arguments against the culling of grey squirrels, and more broadly, argues that the view that greys are responsible for the decline in numbers of red squirrels in the UK. He also challenges the very concept of "nativeness" that has been used to justify killing grey squirrels to save the reds.  I'm not going to attempt to rehash the entire case that is made, so I strongly encourage anyone interested in this issue to visit the site--it is extremely well-organized and presented and, in my opinion, makes a sound and compelling case against the culling of grey squirrels.

There are a couple of highlights that I do want to mention. First, conservationists who demonize the grey squirrel for causing the decline of red squirrels in England tend to ignore the role of habitat alteration and loss in their decline. Grey and red squirrels typically inhabit somewhat different environments: greys favor deciduous forests, while red squirrels prefer conifer forests. Over a period of centuries, due to both climate change and agricultural and urban development, conifer forests have largely disappeared from all but the northern reaches of England and Scotland. The remaining deciduous and mixed forests and park lands are more favorable to the grey squirrels. Thus it is not surprising that the remaining strongholds of the red squirrel are in the north, primarily in Scotland.

Second, Professor Acorn's site makes a compelling argument against the assumption that the grey squirrel is responsible for the spread of squirrel pox virus, and points to evidence that the disease was present in the early part of the twentieth century among red squirrels in areas where they had no contact with greys. He also argues that grey squirrels have developed immunity to the virus over time. Red squirrels could do the same, he argues, but have been unable to do so because in England they are weakened due to living in a marginal environment for them, one that has been made even more marginal due to alteration by humans.

Again, this is a fascinating site that counters many of the arguments of the "conservationists" in the UK who advocate the killing of grey squirrels. Please give it a look.

1 comment:

  1. Professor Acorn is completely wrong on grey squirrels. Grey squirrels are not native to the UK and have been proven to be the main cause of the red squirrel's decline. Professor Acorn's website shows a willful ignorance of simple facts, with a bit of anthropomorphic nonsense thrown in to mix things up. He says, among other things, that red squirrels prefer conifers (when they don't), culling doesn't work (when it does), and he even compares conservation to "ethnic cleansing", which is laughable.

    You say that red squirrels prefer conifers, but this is a down and out lie. Red squirrels, in the abscence of grey squirrels, will live very well in broadleaved woodland, just as well as they do in conifers. It is only since the grey squirrel has come along that this has become a problem.

    Woodland area has been increasing for much of the last century, and this trend continues today. Habitat loss is not a problem today, despite the constant squawkings of animal rights activists.

    Readers would be advised to look at other websites as well, and not to fall for Prof. Acorn's biased vendetta against respected conservation organisations.