Tuesday 26 January 2021

BBC: UK government backs birth control for grey squirrels

Grey squirrel
image captionThe greys were introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th Century

The UK government has given its support to a project to use oral contraceptives to control grey squirrel populations. 

Environment minister Lord Goldsmith says the damage they and other invasive species do to the UK's woodlands costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year.

The bizarre-sounding plan is to lure grey squirrels into feeding boxes only they can access with little pots containing hazelnut spread.

These would be spiked with an oral contraceptive.

Lord Goldsmith says the damage from squirrels also threatens the effectiveness of government efforts to tackle climate change by planting tens of thousands of acres of new woodlands. 

On Tuesday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told BBC News: "We hope advances in science can safely help our nature to thrive, including through the humane control of invasive species."

A partnership of conservation and forestry organisations called the UK Squirrel Accord (UKSA) is behind the proposal.

Read on...

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