Squirrels

Greys are a risk to reds

In response to the views expressed in Tod Bradbury’s letter supporting grey squirrels, (Morpeth Herald, August 27), to suggest, as he does, that greys have been slaughtered “in their millions” (would that it was true) seems ludicrous.

One has only to visit any park or woodland south of the Tyne to see thriving communities of this invasive non-native pest.

In asserting, as he does, that “the grey squirrel is not responsible for the demise of the red squirrel”, he ignores all the scientific and objective evidence to the contrary.

No authority believes other than that reds die out either quickly on contact with greys due to greys infecting the reds with a virus fatal to reds, but not to greys, or they die out over a longer period as the larger greys out-compete the smaller reds for food and territory.

In suggesting, correctly, that woodland habitat destruction will have played some role in reducing red squirrel numbers, Mr Bradbury seems to neatly sidestep the inconvenient fact that large areas of suitable habitat, which once held thriving red populations and which are still available now, for example Norfolk Brecklands, are now devoid of reds, and this is due solely to the invasion of greys.

If the views expounded in his letter are indicative of those in the book/pamphlet he recommends, ‘The True History of Grey Squirrels in Britain’, then I strongly suggest librarians and the public view it as a work of fiction.

Peter Tapsell

Address supplied