Now They Want to Kill the Squirrels

Vernon Coleman

Not content with having buggered up the human population, the UK’s totalitarian government is looking for ways to change our world completely and to control all the animals too.

In line with the Agenda 21 proposals, there are plans to re-wild Britain by closing down much of the countryside and introducing wolves, boar and bison to make sure that the humans do as they are told and stay in the towns and cities. Pet animals, such as dogs and cats, are to be eradicated and eventually banned because they are considered ‘useless’, ‘non-productive’ and ‘potentially hazardous’ by the Agenda 21 aficionados.

And the UK’s Department of the Environment is now looking for ways to control grey squirrels. They are considering culls – similar to the evil and indefensible badger culls – and the use of oral contraceptives. I don’t know who is going to remind the squirrels to take their pills but that’s not my problem.

The ignorant claim that squirrels are just tree rats but this displays ignorance because whereas squirrels like to play and have fun, rats generally set out each day planning to fight and kill everything with which they come into contact. The latest wickedness, however, is a plan from Edinburgh University to alter squirrels genetically so that they pass on infertility genes and cut the population dramatically. According to a recent report, the researchers reckon they could wipe out the squirrel population within 15 years.

I really am getting fed up with all this messing around with genes – whether human, animal or plant.

I’m afraid, I’m not at all convinced that genetic engineering is as safe as the scientists say it is.

Why do these scientists want to get rid of grey squirrels?

I can only think of two reasons – though there may be more.

First, some hoteliers and resort owners all over Britain reckon that red squirrels are pretty and more photogenic than grey squirrels. And since grey and red squirrels compete for food then their racist conclusion is that the grey squirrels must be eradicated so that there will be more pretty red squirrels.

Second, grey squirrels are seen as vermin by some because of the damage they do to trees. Red squirrels do as much harm but no one likes to mention that little problem. As far as the racist, squirrel haters are concerned the red squirrels can do no harm while the wretched and unfortunate grey squirrels are dangerous and must be eradicated.

What the grey squirrel haters don’t know (because like the pro vaxxers they don’t bother to do any research) is the fact that, the red squirrels were once considered a real menace in this country; so much so, that in response to the damage they had caused to woodlands, the Highland Squirrel Club was formed in 1903 with the aim of exterminating as many red squirrels as possible. The members of the Club set about doing this with great gusto and killed 82,000 red squirrels in its first 30 years of existence. The Club’s secretary, Arthur H. Duncan, asked that their tails be submitted as proof of kills.

I wonder what Lady Lovat of the Beaufort Estate would have thought of this.

In 1844, she had managed to persuade the Government to reintroduce red squirrels to the Highlands, where they were on the brink of extinction due to loss of their habitat.

Many of the red squirrels that were introduced to the Highlands as a result of Lady Lovat’s campaign, came from England and others from Sweden, and it did not take long for them to spread outside their re-introduced boundaries. It is rather odd that we think of the grey squirrel as an immigrant when many of the red squirrels were themselves immigrants.

I wonder how long it will be before the red squirrel is once again considered a ‘pest’ and another anti-red squirrel club is formed to kill them.

Meanwhile, it is the grey squirrels that are out of fashion.

And, as well as destroying trees, grey squirrels have been blamed for the dramatic decline in red squirrels numbers.

The bad press the grey squirrels get is enormously unfair. The main culprit for the massive decline in the red squirrel population in Britain is, once again, loss of habitat. Greys are far better suited to deciduous woodlands or mixed woodlands and are able to eat a wider variety of foods; much of the food that makes up the diet of the grey squirrel is indigestible for the red squirrels. The red squirrels thrive best in coniferous woodlands, which is why they do well in Scotland where many of the pine forests are. And over the years, vast areas of coniferous woodlands and forests have been destroyed for agricultural and industrial purposes, as well as to make way for housing. It seems obvious, therefore, that for red squirrels to flourish in the UK they need more of their right sort of habitat: coniferous woodlands.

Finally, the grey squirrels are blamed for passing the squirrelpox virus onto the red squirrels. It is believed that greys act as hosts without actually developing the disease themselves, and that they then pass the virus onto the red squirrels. Yet research has shown that the red squirrels had this deadly disease before the greys were even introduced into this country. And if their numbers had not been so badly decimated in the early part of the 20th century then they too would have probably acquired immunity to the disease by now – just as the greys have done. In fact, there have been recent reports that red squirrels have shown signs of acquiring immunity to the virus.

Grey squirrels have been in Britain for over 100 years; how long do they have to live here before they are considered native?

It seems very wrong to me that one species of the same genus is being favoured over another, which is probably encouraged by the fact that the red squirrels, considered prettier and not as ubiquitous, are boosting tourism in the areas where they have been artificially reintroduced. I suspect that grey squirrels are suffering from political chicanery, commercial expediency and a bad press.

There’s another point worth mentioning.

The red squirrel does not help trees by planting their seeds. The red squirrel piles up its stored nuts and this is of no value whatsoever to trees.

In contrast, the grey squirrel buries nuts and often forgets where they are – with the result that thousands of trees are inadvertently planted. (The grey squirrel plants nuts with great care and precision, digging a hole just the right depth and then covering the buried nut with soil and leaves.)

Because of its habit of planting nuts and then forgetting about them, the grey squirrel has been shown to do a vital service for oak, walnut and beech trees.

Woodland experts believe that if the grey squirrel is driven out then our forests will suffer enormously.

I believe this to be true.

In our garden grey squirrels have damaged just two branches of a beech tree by ring barking them (and the tree thrives without those branches) and they have (to my knowledge) planted at the very least 50 hazel and beech trees – a dozen or so of which I have dug up, moved and replanted in more convenient positions.

The only discernible difference between red and grey squirrels is their colour.

And their colour (and relative rarity in some parts of the country) makes the red squirrel more attractive to some tourists and, therefore, to a number of hoteliers.

It’s like suggesting that a man (or woman) who is white (or black) is better than a man (or woman) who is black (or white).

It’s plain, unvarnished colour prejudice.

Are we now going to kill or sterilise people because they’re the wrong colour?

I’ve studied grey squirrels for years and they are intelligent creatures. They have complex social lives. They have families. They are no threat to human life. They don’t attack babies. All they really want to do is to eat some nuts, bury some nuts ready for the winter, play games, enjoy an energetic courtship ritual and have some babies.

Criminals, eh?

I suspect that those who want to get rid of grey squirrels are the sort of morons who favour a view of the world which is dominated by superficial, Guardian-style environmentalism and city-driven sentimentality devoid of understanding or genuine caring.

Killing grey squirrels because they are grey is as absurd and as indecent as would be a scheme to kill horses because they aren’t striped like zebras.

Copyright Vernon Coleman May 2021

For more surprising, general information about animal behaviour please read `Wisdom of Animals’ by Donna Antoinette Coleman and Vernon Coleman. It’s available on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook.