An infestation of gray squirrels is “destroying England,” said Jane Owen in the London Times. The gray was introduced into a few English forests as an exotic, novelty species in the 19th century. With its girth and voracious appetite, it quickly outcompeted our native reds; now, more than 2 million of these “American invaders” are swarming across the island. “Not content with virtually wiping out indigenous red squirrels,” the little beasts “eat birds’ eggs and fledglings, gnaw through electricity cables, pork out on bird feeders, and destroy gardens.” Those of us who try to cultivate traditional English gardens by planting bulbs watch, horrified, as the squirrels eat up “tens of millions of pounds” worth of what would have been flowers. The sane response to a nonnative species would be to kill it off. But our Environment Ministry actually issues licenses for wildlife sanctuaries to nurse wounded squirrels to health and release them back into the wild. The environment minister, Lord Rooker, defended his policy by asserting that “people like to see squirrels in their gardens.” In other words, he is pandering to “the sentimental, squashy, ill-informed section of public opinion that can’t see beyond fluffy tails and big eyes.” Well, I’m getting a license, too. “For a gun.”
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