How to Fix a Squirrel | Ken Thompson

August 28, 2014 11:20 PM

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How to Fix a Squirrel | Ken Thompson

Earlier this year the UK government finally gave up on trying to control the American grey squirrel in the UK. Officially gave up, that is; they had given up in practice decades earlier. The sign that the towel had been well and truly thrown in was the removal from the statute book of the Grey Squirrels (Prohibition of Importation and Keeping) Order, which, since 1937, had made it an offense not to report the presence of grey squirrels on your land. With grey squirrels now numbered in millions (they're eating the ripening plums on the tree in my garden as I write this) and the native red confined to a few northern and island outposts, you can see why the government admitted that they hadn't taken many calls under the 1937 act in recent years.

Which prompts the question: Why has the grey squirrel been such a success in Britain? Some of the reasons are well known: It's bigger than the red, lives at higher densities, is better adapted to deciduous woodland, is less wary of humans, and carries a virus fatal to the red squirrel. For those who...

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