I’m heading south later today to talk with Pauline Kidner, founder of Secret World Animal Rescue, about how a very specific change in the law will impact how carers/rescuers will be able to treat and release Grey Squirrels.
Not worth the bother?
The Grey Squirrel is one of the most maligned mammals in the UK, and heavily subject to ‘value-based language’ – it’s an ‘alien’, a ‘non-native’, it’s ‘vermin’. Greys are blamed for wiping out Red Squirrels, but we virtually exterminated the Red Squirrel throughout the UK ourselves in previous centuries and have reintroduced huge numbers of ‘non-native’ Reds from Europe. The forestry industry blames Greys for destroying trees, but it is us that has cut down vast areas of forest, and it is us that still devastate ancient forests to build housing and transport infrastructure.
And what about the impact on carers themselves – torn between taking in sick or injured animals but knowing it would be illegal to ever let them go again, even in areas where Reds have not been seen for hundreds of years?
As always, these stories are never as simple as they might seem…
EDIT: So I went to Secret World (with my daughter Evie) to do the podcast. I didn’t want to get in the way (everyone at Secret World is SO hard working) so half-expected to be in and out in under an hour. But Pauline took us on a guided tour, talked about the animals in her care, sat down with both of us for a cuppa in her kitchen, and then did the interview. What a genuinely lovely, lovely person.