Prince Charles is speaking out for a campaign to kill gray squirrels in an attempt to remove competition for red squirrels. The Prince of Wales signed a "squirrel accord" meant to reduce gray squirrel numbers "through targeted and sustained action." The plan is provoking controversy, with animal advocates saying that extermination isn't the answer.
The prince, who is a patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, argues that, since the introduction of gray squirrels, red squirrels have taken a hit, due to disease and competition. They also strip the bark off trees, potentially killing the. The new squirrel accord reads:
Gray squirrels need controlling because of the economic, social and environmental damage that they cause and their adverse impact on red squirrel populations which are part of the natural heritage of the British Isles and need protection.
But some argue that a compromise can be reached. A spokesman for the group Animal Aid told the Guardian:
Claims that they are trying to ‘save' the red squirrel is disingenuous as reds are not endangered but are actually plentiful across their range. There are ways to help protect red squirrels. Establishing them on islands, changing forest planting and supplementing their feed could all help the much-loved animal, without harming the grays.