Martens to curb grey squirrels in UK?

I saw this interesting article in The Week recently


Britain’s red squirrels have been in decline ever since grey squirrels was introduced from North America in the 1870s – but now research suggests they could be saved by another threatened native species: the pine marten. These cat-like animals, members of the same family as weasels, have all but died out in England and Wales, and only a few thousand remain in Scotland. But experts believe the best way to drive away the invading grey squirrels – and encourage the return of the reds – would be to boost pine marten numbers. This has been the effect in Ireland, where pine martens have been protected since the 1970s. “As [pine martens] have repopulated central Ireland, the grey squirrel population has declined and the reds have come back,” Dr Emma Sheehy of Aberdeen University told The Sunday Times. It’s not clear if this is down to direct predation: pine martens do eat squirrels, but mainly feed on birds, insects and frogs. More likely, the grey squirrels may be wasting so much time and energy avoiding the predator, they’re not building up enough fat reserves to survive the winter. As to why the red squirrels are not similarly affected, this may be because they’re lighter and more agile than greys, so can escape pine martens by fleeing to the ends of tree branches. They also get less of their food from the forest floor.

How interesting is this? I hope it works!

Source: The Week

Note: wherever I am in the world, The Week (UK version) keeps me up-to-date with unbiased media reporting (how unusual is that?). I read the online app when travelling and the printed version when I’m home. And no, I don’t have any connection to the publication. I just like it and thought you should know. There’s a US version too I believe.


About starrywazzoh

I'm a birder in Western Europe (UK, France & Spain) and Central Asia, with occasional visits elsewhere. Birding is my principal hobby and I dedicate as much time around work and other commitments.
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