# Monday, 20 April 2009

New research has found that if the population of grey squirrels are controlled red squirrels do return the area. The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) have found red squirrels in Cumbria, Northumberland and parts of Wales where they have been absent for more than twenty years. The return of the red squirrels in attributed to a grey squirrel control zone, in which the grey squirrels are trapped and killed in order to let the red squirrels re-colonise. Animal rights activists, however, insist that killing grey squirrels is not the answer and that red and squirrels could live side by side if a vaccine is developed against the fatal pox virus that the greys often carry. The results of the grey squirrel control zones do appear to be encouraging Dr Craig Shuttleworth SST adviser says: "Ten years ago there were fewer than 40 red squirrels on the island of Anglesey, and their prospects were bleak. However, through a strong local partnership, grey squirrels have almost completely been removed from the island, and the red squirrel population has increased to 300. Significantly they have spread from the conifer trees to the broadleaf areas – showing that reds are happy in a whole variety of habitats providing they are untroubled by greys. Anglesey has turned the grey tide." It appears from this that grey squirrels do need to be controlled in order to help the red thrive. I have also heard that squirrel tastes a bit like chicken, so perhaps they can be put to good use in local restaurants.