April 11, 2009

Report: Red squirrels thrive without grays

Advocates for the return of red squirrels to parts of Britain say they thrive once invasive gray squirrels are eliminated from their habitat.

After an absence of 20 years or more, red squirrels are being seen again in parts of Scotland, Wales and England, said the Red Squirrel Survival Trust established by the Prince of Wales.

Re-establishment of the red squirrel strengthens the case for killing grays, said Trust officials, arguing reds could be extinct within a decade because of competition from the sturdy grays, which eat the same food and contain a virus fatal to reds, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Other animal rights activists, however, argue red and gray squirrels can live peaceably together by managing habitat and developing a vaccine against the virus, said Advocates for Animals, a non-profit group.

Culling is killing, the group said of the elimination of gray squirrels.