Shades of grey

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The topic of grey squirrel culling seems to be something of a hot potato lately...

Love them or hate them, this problem isn't going to go away any time soon.

Greys are currently wiping out our native species of red squirrels but at what point do we intervene or do we just let nature take it's course?

A red squirrel, blissfully unaware of its impending doom.

Red Squirrel image courtesy of Alan Burfitt.

Not only are greys eating the precious food sources of reds and taking over their habitats, they are also destroying native wildlife - eating birds eggs, robbing feeders and generally breeding like rabbits.

If all this wasn't enough - they also carry a virus fatal to reds which gives them a rather slow, horrible death. It would appear as if the odds were firmly stacked in favour of the greys.

Natural selection perhaps? Has the species merely evolved? Should we intervene?

Celebrity chefs have done their bit over the years and every now and again we're encouraged to try cooking squirrel meat (greys not reds in case you're thinking about it!) and informed that its a very low fat, tasty what I'm not sure?

But I bet it tastes like frogs legs...

A grey squirrel planning world domination:

Radio Wales have an item on red squirrels on Monday, 19 October from 9am -12pm on the Jamie & Louise show.

So should we be actively culling greys or do we opt for establishing 'safe havens' and buffer zones such as Anglesey for red squirrels where trapping has already had a profound effect on the greys population?

It's thought that greys will have disappeared from Anglesey within two years...

I have to say, when you see a young grey squirrel running across your lawn playing with a prickly horse chestnut in its paws, it's hard to imagine having to 'despatch it' in the name of conservation but if we don't, what's the alternative?

I was lucky enough to visit the Galapagos Islands a couple of years ago but there the problem wasn't squirrels - it was goats and rats.

Bird and tortoise populations were being decimated on some of the more remote islands so something had to be done quickly to save species from certain extinction.

This was a man made problem and for once it was up to man to clear up his own mess.

The answer was a brutal one - total extermination using traps and guns and by any other means necessary. I've a feeling they used traps on the rats rather than the rifles though...

Helicopters flew over the islands, carrying snipers armed with high powered rifles. The goats didn't stand a chance but the tortoise's food supplies (basically anything green) were made safe - species saved.

So what do you think we should do - Are you in favour of a cull?


Treat yourself to some squirrel videos

Read about the squirrel pox on

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