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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Red and Grey Squirrel Dilemma

Much emotive nonsense has been written and spoken about this issue in recent times; and so to read the reasoned comment below was very refreshing. I feel it's so important these words are read by as many as possible, that I have included the full article in this post; and hope I wont be accused of any copyright transgression.

For my own part I would add that ecosystems take thousands of years to evolve and for humans to cherry pick a species from one system and dump it into another is, in my opinion, nothing short of a criminal act; and all on a whim of human self indulgence with no thought of the consequences.

It's time that we accepted our responsibility for the imminent destruction of yet another of our native species, stopped carping about the semantics, and at least try to do something about it. 

If you wish to read the article in its original context and possibly make your own comment, please go to

Gavin Whittaker: Red and grey squirrels are in a do or die contest 
Published in The Scotsman on Tuesday 20 March 2012 00:00
There has been a lot of debate about red and grey squirrels recently. Before jumping to conclusions, here are some facts about red squirrels. 
First, the red squirrel is found across the entire arboreal range of northern Europe and Asia, and it is ludicrous to suggest that the red squirrel, virtually alone among Eurasian mammals, would not also occupy Britain in the immediate post-glacial period, 10,000 years ago.
 Secondly, the subspecies found in Britain, Sciurus vulgaris leucourus, is peculiar to Britain and Ireland and first described by Scottish-born scientist Robert Kerr in 1792. Kerr considered S.v. leucourus separate from the European S.v.vulgaris due to the blanching of its tail during the summer. This was backed up by anatomist Jerzy Sidorowicz who also considered S.v. leucourus to be a valid subspecies based on a slightly shorter average skull height than S.v.vulgaris. It is not credible that the British subspecies would differ so much from the European farm stock, and from which some consider it to be derived, within 300 years of its supposed introduction.
 Thirdly, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Why would medieval writers concern themselves with the natural history of the red squirrel any more than they would concern themselves with the pygmy shrew or the marsh fritillary? Fourthly, and possibly most importantly, there is no question whatsoever that the grey squirrel was introduced from North America to the UK by humans, but there are huge questions about conjectures based on the musings of medieval texts. 
The crux of the issue is that the red squirrel is unequivocally Eurasian in origin, while the grey squirrel is unequivocally a native North American species. The Forestry Commission reports that grey squirrels cause damage to woodland, while scientific studies report their serious impact on woodland birds.
In the long term, either the grey squirrel will survive or the red squirrel will survive, but not both – nature, red in tooth, claw and disease transmission, takes no prisoners. Those who side with the grey squirrel cast themselves as judge and jury of the red squirrel, and effectively condemn them to death.
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.