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Home > Interesting Exchange with Sally Hardy

An email was originally sent to Ponteland Red Squirrels, from Angus Macmillan who is a campaigner for Prof. Acorn's Grey-Squirrel.org.uk which contained three documents written by Angus:

Not so “native”

One of the key criteria for determining if a species is “native” is that it should have evolved with all other species within its own ecosystem and not have been introduced or assisted by man to arrive at what is regarded as its natural location. In short, it should have got to where it is by its own efforts and evolved naturally.

However, the word “species” is only a descriptive term within a man-made classification system, so it is ridiculous for conservationists to latch the adjective “native” onto a classification, when in the real world it should relate to actual animals that have been born and bred in a location to which their native standing rightfully applies.

If it is important to conservationists that a species evolves naturally in Britain to earn its “native species” status here, then it should be equally important that the same species evolving in a different natural environment abroad, should not be regarded as “native” to this country.

So it is completely false to claim just because a “species” exists in other parts of the world as well as in Britain, that overseas animals can be regarded as “native” if “reintroduced” to this country. Indeed, the word “reintroduced” compounds the fallacy by implying they were “introduced” previously – which in conservation speak would have made them “aliens”.

An example of this is the red squirrel, which has a range stretching from Northern Europe to China. However, it takes an enormous stretch of one’s imagination to regard red squirrels anywhere from here to China, as being native to one particular location. These animals have evolved within a wide range of climatic and environmental conditions and associated with different flora and fauna encountered across the part of the range they inhabit. For conservationists to argue that any of these influences are not important is to argue against their own concept of “native species”.

Ancestors of the current population of red squirrels in the UK have been largely introduced (reintroduced?) from various parts of Europe, following their virtual extermination by those with forestry interests who regarded them as “tree rats” that damaged trees – a term now being used, just as unfairly, to demonise grey squirrels in the eyes of the general public.

As a result, both populations of squirrels, red and grey, have been introduced to this country and there is no conclusive evidence that even the earlier red squirrels evolved here continuously from the time of the land bridge to Europe around 10,000 years ago. Conservationists claiming animals including birds “reintroduced” to this country are “native” because the species existed here in the past are deceiving the public.

Truth is, most animals including birds being introduced or protected by so-called conservationists and government agencies are being exploited for their economic value to tourism - which in itself is one of the most damaging activities of our time and substantially contributes to the destruction of the natural environment they are claiming to protect.

Grey squirrels that are being slaughtered in their thousands are victims of an agenda of greed and falsehoods.

Angus Macmillan
www.grey-squirrel.org.uk
January 2008

 

Conservation - as fake as a 9 note

At a time of economic instability, spiralling prices and cuts in essential services across the board, one industry seems to be escaping much of the hardship.

Never mind our armed services without proper equipment, prisons stretched to capacity, hospitals being sources of infection, schools failing future generations, social services not able to cope, inadequate flood defences, precipitous potholes in our roads, and last but not least the seemingly unstoppable rise in violent crime.

Despite all the political posturing, essential services are largely being starved of cash, whilst millions of pounds are being thrown at a relatively new industry which feeds off fears and prejudices and is about as fake as a nine pound note. Indeed, if this industry operated in the high street, it would probably be closed down for misrepresentation or downright fraud.

The industry of course is “conservation” which:

All this and more while our country is descending into “third world” status at an alarming rate.

The CON in conservation is there for all to see - for those who look closely enough.

Angus Macmillan
www.con-servation.org.uk
February 2008

 

Nazi Conservationists

Like the Nazi thugs were to human ethnics in the 1930s, conservationists are to grey squirrels in the 21 century. In a frenzy of intolerance they persecute and destroy those who are native by birth but condemned by origin.

Thousands of grey squirrels are being slaughtered across the UK in a campaign of hate directed at these small friendly and amusing rodents in the belief that they are infecting “native” red squirrels with squirrel-pox virus known as SQPV. However, a recent incidence of pox infection on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales has largely undermined the conservationists’ claims.

Anglesey has two populations of red squirrels, one of which is in Mvnydd Llwydiarth forest at Pentraeth where, according to the Forestry Commission,
“Red squirrels were close to extinction within Mynydd Llwydiarth in the late 1990s. The forest contained significant numbers of grey squirrels, which were competing with the remaining red squirrels. However, once the grey squirrels were trapped and removed, the red squirrel population responded very positively, and by 2002, there were almost 100 adult red squirrels living in and around the forest”. So, we have it on good authority that grey squirrels have been exterminated and are no longer present in the vicinity.

However, in February 2008 two red squirrels from this location were found to have a pox infection that was originally thought to be SQPV but which preliminarily tested negative, even although the symptoms were exactly the same. This means that there must be an endemic pox virus within the red squirrel population that has absolutely nothing to do with grey squirrels, has never affected grey squirrels, and is not being carried by grey squirrels. This is no surprise, as red squirrels were infected in 40 districts in England where greys had never reached in the early part of the last century. A point conveniently ignored by the so-called conservationists.

It is clear that the red squirrel population is vulnerable to a pox virus irrespective of what name it is given. It appears when the population density increases, so does the incidence of disease. This is not new. red squirrel populations have fluctuated wildly due to disease and persecution in the past.

Grey squirrels cannot be the cause of a disease that is endemic in reds but may merely add to an existing infection reservoir in the red’s population through adding to the overall squirrel population density in a given location.

It is as outrageous as it is grossly unfair to slaughter thousands of grey squirrels

Killing one group of individuals to benefit another, was the trait of the Nazis.

Angus Macmillan
www.grey-squirrel.org.uk
March 2008

 

We received an email back from Sally Hardy who runs the Ponteland Red Squirrels group, but seldom puts her full name to anything she writes

 

Oh so native

The red squirrel is native to Britain and europe. The species, Sciurus Vulgaris, has been in the Uk for thousands of years. It is also native to other parts of Europe and Asia.

Their are many sub species of the S.Vulgaris, one being unique to England. I agree there have been introductions, 2 in Scotland and 1 in Epping Forest in 1910. It is highly unlikely that these introductions made such an impact as you are suggestions in all the populations in England, but perhaps they have more so in Scotland. the unique subspecies has been proved to exist in the North of England and probably most other areas, where reds still exist too.

Unfortunately, the Epping Forest reds were decimated by the influx of greys a long time ago and therefore, it is unlikely that any of the introductions have survived.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your view point, greys are controlled by Pest Control officers employed by members of the public and Councils across the whole of the UK, including Scotland, not because they care about the red squirrel, but because they regard greys as vermin, like rats.

Sally

 

Angus then replied to Sally Hardy with the following email:

 

There is no evidence the show that the red squirrel S vulgaris has evolved continuously in the UK for thousands of years. The presence of bones found in caves does not confirm a continued presence. If you have any evidence to the contrary please produce it.

Reds in Cumbria were thought to be the "original" subspecies but this was later discarded. Like most other "conservationists", you present assumptions and speculation as facts, based at least on ignorance and at worst on dishonesty.

_____________________________________

From Bristol University:

THE HISTORY OF RED SQUIRRELS IN BRITAIN
The Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a widespread species found in most wooded areas of Eurasia from Iberia to Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin Island (Russia), and Great Britain south to Mediterranean and Black Sea, north Mongolia, west and north-east China (Gurnell, 1991; Lurz et al., 2005; Wilson & Reeder, 2005). In Britain, the red squirrel was thought to be distinct subspecies (S. vulgaris leucorus) characterised by a distinctive annual bleaching of hair, especially on the tail and ears (Lowe & Gardner, 1983). However, recent DNA analysis indicated no evolutionary divergence between British and continental populations (Barratt et al., 1999). This is unsurprising for two reasons; first populations in Britain have been isolated for a relatively short time (8000 years) since the last ice age and may not have evolved sufficiently to acquire monophylognetic status (Barratt et al., 1999); second, red squirrels were deliberately reintroduced into Scotland and England from continental stock at various times during the last 150 years (Ritchie, 1920; Lowe & Gardiner, 1983), and many were also imported from the continent as a food source and may have escaped (Freethy, 1983). Further genetic analysis supports this earlier hypothesis, although it was suggested that most British squirrels are descended from more recent introductions from Scandinavia (Hale et al., 2004). Using museum specimens, Kitchener et al. (2003) suggested that the Cumbrian population of red squirrels remained a distinctive British subspecies, and that other populations were the result of introductions. However, further museum work showed a temporal loss of distinctive phenotypic characteristics from the Cumbrian population, which was caused by increased gene flow into the population following increased planting of woodland, which linked the Cumbrian and Scottish populations (Hale et al., 2001; Hale & Lurz, 2003). As a consequence, all British red squirrels represent a mixed genetic stock (Barratt et al., 1999; Hale et al., 2004).

_____________________________________

Fortunately not all people regard grey squirrels as vermin and according to responses to our website many are horrified at the indiscriminate slaughter.

You should also be aware that at the turn of the last century red squirrels were similarly victimised throughout the UK by those with forestry interests and were at that time described as "tree rats". Over 80,000 were slaughtered in Scotland alone.

All squirrels in this country are native by birth and should not be persecuted because of their ancestory - whether it be European, Asian or American.

Angus Macmillan
www.grey-squirrel.org.uk

 

This resulted in a rather short email from Sally Hardy:

 

It's funny isn't it that Research can be interpreted to suit.

Sally

 

Angus replied with the following email:

 

So what research suits your case?

Angus Macmillan
www.grey-squirrel.org.uk

 

To which Sally Hardy replied:

 

Probably all the research that that and other papers have been derived from. As I said-sifted to suit, and that paper is notroiously known for just that.

Sally

 

Angus replied:

 

So the best you can do is speculate and criticise others using the qualifier "probably".

Seems you've no research to back up your claims.

Angus Macmillan
www.grey-squirrel.org.uk

 

We haven't had any further response from Sally Hardy. If she ever does reply, we will of course post it here.

Continue: Return to the Interesting Exchanges page >

Native by Birth - Condemned by Origin

profacorn@grey-squirrel.org.uk