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Old Thursday 10th August 2006, 12:52   #1
pduxon
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BBC Wildlife Article on Red Squirrels

Did anyone read the article on Red Squirrels in the latest BBC Wildlife magazine?

Dr Stephen Harris argues that there is no way we are going to stop the spread of the Grey, and the ultimate anhilation of the Red, so spending vasts sums of money doing so is a waste of money that could be better spent on more vital conservation projects.

Harris argues that it would be better to create Island Enclaves like Brownsea, Isle of Wight and to eradicate the Grey from Anglessey.

He also states that many of the objections to Greys e.g. destroys woodland were argued against the Red in the 20's

A fairly balanced precis of the article can be found here

http://pinguicula.typepad.com/blog/2006/08/reds.html

Is it true that the Red was virtually extinct in the UK and reintroduced into much of the UK in the 1800's?
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Old Thursday 10th August 2006, 14:22   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pduxon
Did anyone read the article on Red Squirrels in the latest BBC Wildlife magazine?

Dr Stephen Harris argues that there is no way we are going to stop the spread of the Grey, and the ultimate anhilation of the Red, so spending vasts sums of money doing so is a waste of money that could be better spent on more vital conservation projects.

Harris argues that it would be better to create Island Enclaves like Brownsea, Isle of Wight and to eradicate the Grey from Anglessey.

He also states that many of the objections to Greys e.g. destroys woodland were argued against the Red in the 20's

A fairly balanced precis of the article can be found here

http://pinguicula.typepad.com/blog/2006/08/reds.html

Is it true that the Red was virtually extinct in the UK and reintroduced into much of the UK in the 1800's?
I read it and found it quite persuasive:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....466#post653466
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Old Friday 11th August 2006, 09:03   #3
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Are there yet any areas where Greys have encountered Pine Martens, and if so what have been the results?

Incidentally I think a sensible approach would be to (a) demonise Greys in the media and (b) de-demonise air weapons provided they are directed at Grey Squirrels. Maybe they could even provide a target for the shooting fraternity that we could all endorse.

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Old Friday 11th August 2006, 11:30   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John
Are there yet any areas where Greys have encountered Pine Martens, and if so what have been the results?

Incidentally I think a sensible approach would be to (a) demonise Greys in the media and (b) de-demonise air weapons provided they are directed at Grey Squirrels. Maybe they could even provide a target for the shooting fraternity that we could all endorse.

John
John

in the fifties there was a bounty on Grey's and over a million bounties were paid. It was stopped because it didn't work. Although I believe shooting organisations are reproposing it.

The article makes the point that much of the current demonisation of Greys now is exactly what was said about Reds in the 20's & 30's. There was once a big cull of Reds (in Scotland I think).
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Old Monday 14th August 2006, 07:55   #5
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Originally Posted by pduxon
John

in the fifties there was a bounty on Grey's and over a million bounties were paid. It was stopped because it didn't work. Although I believe shooting organisations are reproposing it.

The article makes the point that much of the current demonisation of Greys now is exactly what was said about Reds in the 20's & 30's. There was once a big cull of Reds (in Scotland I think).

Yes, the trouble with a bounty system is that it actually favours not wiping out the target species - killing the goose that lays the golden egg and all that. The problem was addressed and solved by MAFF over East Anglia's Coypu - it would be interesting to know how they modified their approach to provide hunters with an incentive to finish the job.

To be honest I don't think most of Joe Public considers Greys a pest for forest damage but only the wilfully ignorant don't know that Greys displace Reds, even if they don't always know the detailed reasons. I reckon there would be broad support for a policy that reversed the trend.

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Old Monday 14th August 2006, 08:36   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John
I reckon there would be broad support for a policy that reversed the trend.

John
The question the article asks is should we bother to reverse the trend at all.As long as the Red exists in easy to manage island sanctuarys.

It seems the only reason to wipe greys out is because they are nasty and grey not pretty and red, as the actual so called "damage" that squirrels do is the same regardles of whether they look like Squirrel Nutkin or Rats with fluffy tails.
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Old Tuesday 15th August 2006, 13:08   #7
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Originally Posted by mothman
The question the article asks is should we bother to reverse the trend at all.As long as the Red exists in easy to manage island sanctuarys.

It seems the only reason to wipe greys out is because they are nasty and grey not pretty and red, as the actual so called "damage" that squirrels do is the same regardles of whether they look like Squirrel Nutkin or Rats with fluffy tails.
Grey vs Red Squirrel

Signal vs White-clawed Crayfish

Red-legged vs Grey Partridge

Cmon guys, it doesnt have to be about damage: just who was here first and what species owns the guilt for having set the situation up.

Damage is more the Mink vs Water Vole argument, though the guilt remains the same.

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Old Tuesday 15th August 2006, 14:00   #8
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John
Grey vs Red Squirrel

Signal vs White-clawed Crayfish

Red-legged vs Grey Partridge

Cmon guys, it doesnt have to be about damage: just who was here first and what species owns the guilt for having set the situation up.

Damage is more the Mink vs Water Vole argument, though the guilt remains the same.

John
Hello John,

Hope you find this cooler weather more to your liking!

Had any good birding trips recently?

I'm off to the Rutland Birdfair on Friday, are you likely to be attending?

Cheers,
Chris
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Old Tuesday 15th August 2006, 22:02   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John
Grey vs Red Squirrel

Signal vs White-clawed Crayfish

Red-legged vs Grey Partridge

Cmon guys, it doesnt have to be about damage: just who was here first and what species owns the guilt for having set the situation up.

Damage is more the Mink vs Water Vole argument, though the guilt remains the same.

John
You pays yer ( finite hard earned charitable trust/taxpaters: delete as applicable)money and makes yer choice!

Grey V Red Squirrel :A popular battle among folk,but is it winable on the mainland? a contentious question clouded by the cute nature of the beast.

Signal vs White clawed Crayfish: winable with goodwill, but very few people care because Crayfish aren't cwute an fwuffy!

I bet a thread entitled 'Last stand of the White Clawed Crayfish' wouldn't attract the 152 submissions and 7,230 hits that the squirel one with the similar name has,and BF is full of people that are natural history fans!,let alone the rest of the public

Red-legged vs Grey Patridge: winable, but the average corporate shooter doesn't give a toss about hue of his targets legs(and its his view that counts most in the countryside believe me!)

As for the Mink Vs water vole:that one is thankfully almost nearly not quite won with the help of the Otter population increase and some judicious reintroductions.
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Old Wednesday 16th August 2006, 07:23   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mothman
You pays yer ( finite hard earned charitable trust/taxpaters: delete as applicable)money and makes yer choice!

Grey V Red Squirrel :A popular battle among folk,but is it winable on the mainland? a contentious question clouded by the cute nature of the beast.

Signal vs White clawed Crayfish: winable with goodwill, but very few people care because Crayfish aren't cwute an fwuffy!

I bet a thread entitled 'Last stand of the White Clawed Crayfish' wouldn't attract the 152 submissions and 7,230 hits that the squirel one with the similar name has,and BF is full of people that are natural history fans!,let alone the rest of the public

Red-legged vs Grey Patridge: winable, but the average corporate shooter doesn't give a toss about hue of his targets legs(and its his view that counts most in the countryside believe me!)

As for the Mink Vs water vole:that one is thankfully almost nearly not quite won with the help of the Otter population increase and some judicious reintroductions.
The only good thing about Mink (mind you when I'm watching them I admit they are quite cool) is that round us in summer their diet seems to be almost exclusively Signal Crayfish!

John
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Old Wednesday 16th August 2006, 07:25   #11
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Originally Posted by Chris Monk
Hello John,

Hope you find this cooler weather more to your liking!

Had any good birding trips recently?

I'm off to the Rutland Birdfair on Friday, are you likely to be attending?

Cheers,
Chris
The cool is definietely an improvement!

I went for a laugh to see the pelican last Saturday, then birded Dungeness and finished by watching Wild Boar in the woods north-east of Rye. Good value, I saw 12 (but failed yet again to get pictures).

I've never been to the Birdfair, which is how come I saw my first Lesser Sand Plover in Britain. Have a good time if you are going.

Cheers

John
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Old Thursday 17th August 2006, 12:44   #12
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I personally think there's a big danger of much of our wildlife ending up like a safari park. Reintroductions and conservation ends up being done for the wrong reason - efforts end up being political and public orientated and not for the animals benefit. (eg the discussion on White-tailed Eagle and Great Bustard reintoductions into England, surely much more a publicity stunt than for the birds real benefit). It's OK for Dr Harris to say keep the Reds in manageable enclaves, but would this lead to a lack of effort in trying retain its natural range? Do we just give up everywhere else and be happy with doing a Red Squirrel tour at one of it's special reserves? It now seems normal human behaviour to have everything in manageable pockets, all neat and tidy with full access, viewing and public toilets at each place - birds and animals shouldn't be outside the reserve boundaries.
Obviously some species do benefit from being looked after inside a big fence, but I think we should do all we can to let Red Squirrels remain in their natural range. If this means spending money on killing as many Greys as possible, then so be it. A site close to me has killed over 100 Grey Squirrels on the estate and has seen the return of 6 Reds to one observers garden - it can work with effort.
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Old Thursday 17th August 2006, 17:45   #13
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Originally Posted by whitburnmark
I personally think there's a big danger of much of our wildlife ending up like a safari park. Reintroductions and conservation ends up being done for the wrong reason - efforts end up being political and public orientated and not for the animals benefit. (eg the discussion on White-tailed Eagle and Great Bustard reintoductions into England, surely much more a publicity stunt than for the birds real benefit). It's OK for Dr Harris to say keep the Reds in manageable enclaves, but would this lead to a lack of effort in trying retain its natural range? Do we just give up everywhere else and be happy with doing a Red Squirrel tour at one of it's special reserves? It now seems normal human behaviour to have everything in manageable pockets, all neat and tidy with full access, viewing and public toilets at each place - birds and animals shouldn't be outside the reserve boundaries.
Obviously some species do benefit from being looked after inside a big fence, but I think we should do all we can to let Red Squirrels remain in their natural range. If this means spending money on killing as many Greys as possible, so be it. A site close to me has killed over 100 Grey Squirrels on the estate and has seen the return of 6 Reds to one observers garden - it can work with effort.
My point was that would that ammount of money and effort be spent on reds if they weren't 'cwute and fwuffy',the answer is clearly no judging by projects like the crayfish one which is more winable but very few care care about.

In order to do what your estate has done still requires a population of reds near by and all the greys wiped out in a relatively isolated area or to put it another way "An island population"without the water.

Where I am(and over much of England) this is just not practicle as almost no woodland is completely isolated but are linked by coridors of woodland,copses and hedgerows.To wage a wholesale war on greys you are talking extinction on the grandest scale.

Let me put it into perspective,humans have nearly always killed rats whenever they have seen them,in fact controll of the brown rat has had the full suport of the general puplic for a few hundred years now and there is even a whole industry based on their controll,despite this wholesale carnage you are never more than ten feet from one!
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Old Monday 21st August 2006, 05:31   #14
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The article in BBC wildlife accords with the magazine's function, to entertain readers and sell magazines. But the 'research paper' behind the article was commissioned by animal rights people, who met the Professor when they were both at Westminster giving evidence to the government in the preparatin of the anti-hunting bill. It is not scientific nor academic, nor peer-reviewed but is a selection of bits and pieces denigrating people's love of red squirrels. Another survey showed that people do want reds. And it omits the most important factor of all, that grey squirrels are not wild animals but aliens and as such do not have an ecological niche here. They are still animals that deserve humane management - ALL animals in the countryside are managed. Nothing is plain 'wild' and 'natural' on UK land that is all, every last morsel, owned and managed towards stated objectives. Grey squirrel populations are out of control and, like red deer, will need to be restricted in numbers as the decades roll on. Otherwise they will, like humans, destroy the very habitat they rely on. I suggest we should keep them down to one or two billion individual grey squirrels in England and ten billion individuals in Scotland.

Errors and omissions in the article include the role of dedicated individuals in the success of Anglesey, the successes of grey control in Cumbria, the huge gain to the economy from red squirrels (ospreys bring in 3.5 million per year; red squirrels could pay, too, pay for themselves as it were.) And there are indigenous genetic red squirrels here. And as for the language of the article and the photos - straight out of animal rights literature. See http://www.europeansquirrelinitiative.org/ for an objective view.

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Old Wednesday 23rd August 2006, 11:03   #15
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How on earth can you call thw E,S ,I objective I mean look at the logo for a start,the only thing missing are fangs and a cloak!!

I suspect the only objective view lies somewhere between the Animal rights extremist view and the E.S.I extremist view.
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Old Wednesday 23rd August 2006, 11:30   #16
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sorry to show my ignorance but are Grey Squirels present in Mainland Europe?
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Old Friday 25th August 2006, 19:06   #17
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Hi all

Finally got round to reading the article, which I broadly agreed with.

I can't see Stephen Harris as belonging to the animal rights movement as he seems to advocate killing the remaining grey squirrels on Anglesey; and he also appears to believe killing all the grey squirrels in Britain would be an reasonable option if it were practical. I've read a few of his articles and he strikes me as very independent-minded, not fitting into any clearly defined camp.

I agree with most of what he says...though I'm distinctly more animal rights...I'd like to see the Anglesey greys relocated rather than killed.

I've often wondered about the viability of the Brownsea Island red squirrels. Would they benefit from the introduction of some new blood now and again?

best wishes to all
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Old Friday 25th August 2006, 19:11   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pduxon
sorry to show my ignorance but are Grey Squirels present in Mainland Europe?
Hi Pete

Only in northern Italy, so far as I know. This was obviously a separate introduction. I'm not sure anyone's clear how far or how quickly they'll spread, or whether interactions with reds will duplicate the British experience.

atb
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Old Friday 25th August 2006, 19:21   #19
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Just looked up some more red/grey facts:

Greys are also now established in one part of South Africa, but are not generally considered to be causing problems for any native species.

Reds are found right across Eurasia as far as the Pacific, including the islands of Hokkaido and Sakhalin. Greys obviously have the potential to colonise much of Europe - but is there continuous enough habitat for them to reach the far east?

James
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Old Sunday 10th September 2006, 22:07   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John
Grey vs Red Squirrel

Signal vs White-clawed Crayfish

Red-legged vs Grey Partridge

Cmon guys, it doesnt have to be about damage: just who was here first and what species owns the guilt for having set the situation up.

Damage is more the Mink vs Water Vole argument, though the guilt remains the same.

John
Appol's for being slightly off topic,fishermen the length and breadth of the signals range are killing them on sight.Thats a lot of people actually out there with muddy fingers.It will almost certainly not stop the spread.
An interesting side effect of the signal crayfishes population explosion is the increase in body mass of the Perch,who it is thought feed on the immature specimens,although to the best of my knowledge this hasnt been backed up by scientific studies,yet.If anyone knows of any such studies i would be interested to hear of them.
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