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Grey squirrels are classed as vermin
Squirrel on the menu
Grey squirrel meat is now on sale in Corbridge. BBC Radio Newcastle's Gilly Hope went along to find out more.
The red squirrel population in the UK is seriously under threat.
Over the last 130 years it has dropped from approximately 3.5 million to around 160,000 and the north of England is now one of the last bastions of this native species.
Grey squirrels are the main cause of this decline and efforts are now being taken to control their numbers, including trapping.
But how about eating them to keep the numbers down?
Well, it sounds like a strange idea but there is at least one place in the region where you can buy squirrel meat.
Ridley's Fish and Game in Corbridge, Northumberland, are now selling wild squirrel alongside their more traditional wares.
The owner, David Ridley, told BBC Radio Newcastle's Gilly Hope there's been a lot of curiosity about it.
"We never know how something new is going to go," he said. "Most of the game we sell is based along fairly traditional lines. You know pheasant will sell and venison will sell. This is a new venture really."
David advises roasting or stuffing the meat
"The situation for red squirrels is fairly well documented... so when people started to talk about the possibility of eating grey squirrel we were quite inquisitive about it."
David says the squirrels take a little longer to prepare than some other game because the skin is tough and suggests serving them whole as there isn't that much meat on them.
Grey squirrels are classified as vermin in the UK but David says there's no need to worry because they would spot if a squirrel was out of condition or diseased just as they would with another any fish or game.
The proof, of course, is in the eating and Gilly admitted to being more than a little nervous at the prospect of scoffing squirrel.
So what was her final verdict? "It's very sweet, I like it... It would be lovely on kebabs!"
last updated: 03/03/2008 at 12:33
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