It is lovely to see a grey squirrel as with any other animal. as they are so happy living in large cities they are the one seen the most often. However, they should not be wild in the uk. Surely this is animal protection gone nuts- the fact that humans introduced grey squirrels is meaning that the red squirrel is disappearing (all the more crazy because it took several attempts to get a grey squirrel population established).
The greys have already pushed red squirrels up into scotland, and everywhere on the divide regularly have outbreaks of squirrel pox in the native red squirrel population. Fornby, near Liverpool, had a red squirrel population that had just about recovered from an outbreak of squirrel pox in 2007, and the population has been virtually eradicated again.
While I hate the idea of any creature being killed, it is necessary because of us humans being stupid enough to introduce species not native (similar with the problems sika deer and muntjack are causing to trees). I am not saying I like animals being killed (I was against fox hunting) I would say it is 'the lesser of two evils'.
Conservation without thought is not conservation at all. Another example similar to the grey squirrels is the introduction of ferrets in new zealand
When europeans arrived they bought rabbits to remind themselves of home. The rabbits escaped and as there are no native mammals the population exploded, so they introduced ferrets to eat the rabbits, but the ferrets kill the native birds which dont fly because they had no land predator for thousands of years (the Kiwi).
All in all, while it is far from a positive situation, from a conservation point of view the grey squirrels shouldnt be here and so the reds need conserving- to the detriment of the greys if necessary.
As I said before, I love to see grey squirrels but I would far rather they had not been introduced and it was reds instead. Long term the only way red squirrels will survive without regular costly slaughters of the grey squirrels is if the greys are removed completely.
Our organisation is trying to get rid of the Squirrel Pox virus which kills of the grey squirrels.It is not the grey squirrels fault they were introduced to Britain so why should they be punished?As Red Squirrels already lived all over Britain (not just England).But when the Grey Squirrels were introduced they brought with them a terrible virus which you can read more about here jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/rs_disease.pdf
As some Red Squirrels seem to become immune to the disease (In praticular the Red Squirrels that are in areas where Grey Squirrels are abundant)We want to find out what make this immunity (possibly antibodies) possible and see if we can transfer it onto other Red Squirrels so that they can live together no culling needed.
It would be fantastic if squirrel pox were eradicated. I agree with some of your sentiment- I go as often as I can to see wild animals and given I live in britain that means grey squirrels or Deer around me.
However, surely conservationists have a duty to try to conserve wildlife- not to conserve errors made in the past. What about mink? many would say that these are 'cute' (definitely not a good way to decide on conservation) but they are wiping out water voles.
As an animal lover myself I hate the idea of having culls. However we have mucked up the british ecosystem by introducing an animal htat has no place here.
If squirrel pox can be eradicated then we have another problem. grey squirrels are larger than the native reds, they also do significant damage to trees (it costs the uk quite a lot) and ecosystems. Would red squirrels survive alongside the greys? it is possible but I doubt it.
It would be fantastic if all animals could live alongside one another with all of them being healthy and happy but this is not possible nor is it good science. In the wild, when two species fill the same niche in an ecosystem one will inevitably damage the other.
Dont get me wrong, as I said I love seeing grey squirrels. However it is not a question of being 'punished' this is an emotive word. Long term conservation needs to allow ecosystems to work as they have evolved, not as how we as humans would like them too. Even with the eradication of squirrel pox (a tall order in a wild fast producing population) it is unlikely that red squirrels could recolonise the south of england
SOG was Thought up in 2009 by Emily and Evie. We both care about the well being of animals, so when we were talking one day about the Grey Squirrels we created this organisation.
Myths Grey Squirrels