Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Run, Run for the Hills Grey Squirrels!

Can you believe this?

From the Telegraph.co.uk

Sterilisation plan for grey squirrels
By Graham Tibbetts
Last Updated: 6:01pm BST 02/10/2007


Scientists are planning a mass sterilisation programme to halt the growth of Britain's grey squirrel population which is now feared to have reached five million.

Teams in Britain and America are working against the clock to develop a method of rendering the pests infertile using treated bait.

Some estimates put the number of greys in Britain at five million and it is feared the local red population could die out within two decades unless dramatic steps are taken to curb their bigger, stronger rivals.

As well as forcing out red squirrels, greys destroy trees by stripping bark and have taken their toll on songbird populations by taking eggs. They also steal food from garden bird tables and infest loft spaces.

The problem of the burgeoning grey population was highlighted by the Daily Telegraph in an article by associate editor Simon Heffer which prompted a flood of letters and emails from readers. He called for a cull to stop them damaging the countryside.

Government scientists are working on a two-year programme commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to find an effective oral contraceptive for grey squirrels.

They are also trying to pinpoint the best way of giving it to the rodents without affecting other animals. If successful, the treatment could be adopted in around five to 10 years.

Brenda Mayle, who is leading the research, said sterilisation injections had already proved successful in horses and deer in the US.

"If it eats part of the bait and leaves the rest it is a risk to non-target species. We are looking for a food package that the squirrel will eat in its entirety and not cache, which it does with acorns," said Ms Mayle, who is research programme manager for Forest Research – part of the Forestry Commission – in Surrey.

The contraceptive would work by attacking the immune system of the squirrel, suppressing its fertility. Scientists are desperate to find ways of tackling the grey squirrel threat before it causes more damage to the red population.

Greys have been found to carry a disease called squirrelpox virus (SQPV) which does not harm them but kills reds.

It is spreading through Britain and has recently been found as far north as Lowland Scotland.

Ms Mayle said: "It's very important that we do find something to reduce the rate of their spread, particularly because we are seeing the squirrelpox virus spreading north in Scotland now."

But she added: "It's not an alternative to culling. It will become another tool in our ability to manage wildlife populations but it's not an alternative to lethal methods."

A spokesman for Defra ruled out a national cull, saying it had been considered but would be too expensive with no guarantee of success.

"The Government is committed to preventing the further spread of grey squirrels, however, eradication is considered impracticable at national level. Some local programmes of control are under way, particularly in areas where grey squirrels are threatening remaining populations of reds or to protect forestry," she said.

Grey squirrels were introduced to Britain from America in the Victorian era but swiftly pushed out red squirrels, which are now only found in the Isle of Wight, Brownsea Island, western Wales, northern England and parts of Scotland.

Well, well, well. Isn't this ironic. The land of Charles Darwin, who introduced the concept of "survival of the fittest" into the world in the "Age of Enlightenment" (cough cough cough) is now trying to wipe out the fittest species (grey squirrels) in order to keep an inferior species (red squirrels) alive. Hey, Darwin, are you spinning in your grave?

Gee, when it's put like this - up close and personal - it really sucks to believe in such baloney sausage as "survival of the fittest", doesn't it. But if the scientists (the "experts", after all) believe in this B.S. theory, then it behooves them to being committed to allowing the red squirrel population to die out, except perhaps for a few specimens in zoos. Otherwise, they're speaking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. THERE ARE NO "BUTS" IN DARWIN'S WORLD OF EVOLUTION - NATURAL SELECTION AND SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. NO EXCEPTIONS. THE WEAK DIE. THE FIT LIVE. BYE BYE SUCKA.

And you know the scientists, they're just going to really screw up the ecology EVEN MORE if they try and "cull" the grey squirrels using treated bait for birth control. Anyone other than those scientists can predict right now what will happen. There will be tons more "unintended consequences" than what happened some 100 years ago when some frigging idiot introduced an invasive species (the grey squirrels) into the British Isles, and the scientists really have no clue as to what most of those new unintended consequences will be! And yet they're discussing doing this - finding the right "magic bullet." GEEZ!

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