After fighting off the non-native grey squirrel for well over a century, the UK parliament has voted to scrap a law intended to protect Britain's native red squirrel species (shown above). Parliament officials say it is "no longer considered feasible" to attempt to eradicate the invasive rodents, which have been in the UK since the 19th century and carry diseases to which the native species has no immunity.
Several MPs have criticized the leadership's decision to revoke the Grey Squirrels (Prohibition of Importation and Keeping) Order, which has been in effect since 1937. Chi Onwurah, a MP from the British northeast, claims that the decision will threaten the population of red squirrels that is currently thriving in her region.
"I was shocked and surprised by the minister's sense of defeat when it came to halting the onslaught of the grey squirrel and protecting and promoting the red squirrel," Onwurah told the Telegraph. "Red squirrels are flourishing in the North East, and there is an active interest here helping them."
According to Oliver Heald, the UK solicitor general who announced the retraction, the environment secretary will reserve the right to destroy grey squirrels in parts of the country where red squirrels continue to thrive. Researchers are also looking for new ways to eradicate squirrel pox, the disease that grey squirrels carry which decimates red squirrel populations.