6/12/2019

How can we be green and vegetarian? Our letter on grey squirrels to the Mail Online

Sir, I don’t think eating our way through the squirrel problem was Sir Harry Studholme’s first choice of method (Britons should EAT grey squirrels to keep population down and stop them killing trees, says Forestry Commission boss, December 4). He mentioned pine martens as a possible biological control; the Forestry Commission has also invested in research on fertility control for squirrels. If those options fail, we are left with control by trapping and shooting, which is expensive.  Some of the cost of control might be recouped by selling squirrels as food rather than simply throwing them away.  Nice idea, how to be green without going vegetarian!  I don’t personally believe the nation’s hunger for squirrel meat will drive squirrel numbers down, but it might help the economics.

About half of the UK’s woodland is less than 40 years old and therefore vulnerable to grey squirrel damage.  If we plant a lot more trees soon to save the planet, that will mean even more vulnerable trees. Planting and caring for trees costs money, much of which is taxpayers’ money. So, it’s in everyone’s interests to grow healthy trees that eventually produce nice timber.  That would also help reduce imports of timber (and tree diseases) from other countries, but it can’t be done without controlling grey squirrels.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds

Head of predation control studies at GWCT

Comments

Squirrels & Mail Online

at 11:35 on 23/12/2019 by Paul

I note that GWCT had to reply to the Mail Online regarding a discussion on consuming squirrels. It is unfortunate that such a media channel needs to recognized and interacted with as it is generally deliberately obstructive and therefore time consuming. Mail Online appears to employ a very unhelpful publication strategy to support their relatively low-threshold understanding of any matter in particular in order to gain acceptance via attrition allowing their perspectives to stand as those more knowledgeable would rather apply their time and energy on more productive pursuits than educating the willfully ignorant. I do therefore wish to advise that I appreciate the time and effort that GWCT makes to ensure that such an approach is checked and possibly thwarted. I am due to purchase a membership for 2020 for a new shooting/hunting organisation and currently I feel it is likely to be GWCT.

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