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Big Red Squirrels

Selective Breeding & Release
  [vote for,

Red squirrels have a few problems with Grey's.

1. both species are territorial to a degree & the Grey's are bigger.

2. Greys carry a virus lethal to Reds but not themselves.

3. Greys can digest acorns & other seeds before they're ripe enough for the Red's digestive system so they get first bite at any food source leaving less for the Red.

There may be others but those are the ones I'm aware of.

The proposal:

Captive selective breeding to produce larger Reds (easy), more aggressive & territorial (including aggression to Greys of course), resistant to Squirrelpox (there must be some out there we can use as initial breeding stock)..

& maybe also for better digestion of unripe green acorns.

Release in areas populated by the Grey & let them do to the Grey what the Grey has done to the Red.

As evidenced by wild dogs (among other examples) the effects of selective breeding tend to breed out of a population once left to their own devices so once we stop releasing captive bred big Reds into the wild & the selection pressures of the Grey is gone chances are they'll revert to the original phenotype in a few generations..

Especially once (having eradicated the intervening Grey as they spread from release sights in the south) they link up with the remaining wild population & interbreed.

Skewed, Oct 04 2019

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs https://www.daera-n...squirrel-population
Controlling the grey squirrel population [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]

Woodland Trust https://www.woodlan...red-squirrel-facts/
Red squirrel facts [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]

Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipe...g/wiki/Red_squirrel
Red squirrel [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]

Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipe...stern_gray_squirrel
Gray squirrel [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]

Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipe...i/Squirrelpox_virus
Squirrelpox virus [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]

Google images https://www.google....gB&biw=1280&bih=616
Feral dogs, all revert to the same body plan [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]

Grey Squirrel Bounty Abandoned in 1957 http://news.bbc.co....hi/wales/454114.stm
BBC News [Skewed, Oct 04 2019]


       But then grey squirrels will be an endangered species because of the huge, aggressive red squirrels. Surely then someone will propose breeding larger and more aggressive grey squirrels, and then the red squirrels will need a bit of help, and so on with the ghastly inevitability of a super-rodent arms-race until the world is full of massive, ferocious T-Rex-like squirrels, laying waste to whatever is in their path and ultimately wiping out humanity.
hippo, Oct 04 2019

       12-bores are more entertaining, although squirrel recognition training would be needed.   

       .30-06 is even more entertaining, though greater skill is required; on the plus side, there's no need to struggle through undergrowth to retrieve the corpse, as it doesn't exist.
8th of 7, Oct 04 2019


       Well of course this is only part of a multipronged approach but 12-bores are perhaps a little excess to requirements.   

       They're only squirrels after all.   

       We were thinking more a relaxation of air rifle ownership, carry laws & age restrictions coupled with a 10p bounty on Grey squirrel tails.   

       Disappointing the Scout Association hasn't replied to our proposal of a new 'environmental awareness badge' for 100 Grey squirrel tails turned in.   

       Another prong is a chain of Grey squirrel meat restaurant franchises across the counties (we're hoping to get Jamie Oliver to front that for us, if we keep him busy enough he might leave our turkey twizzler relaunch alone).   

       If our new line of Grey squirrel fur is a success at the Paris fashion week it should help put pressure on the Greys as well, still looking for a name to promote that one for us though, for some reason Versace isn't returning our calls, OK so it's been a few years since we talked but he can't still be miffed about that incident with the Crème brûlée.   

       We're also trying to breed pine martens that are blind to the red of a red squirrels fur, but not had much luck yet.
Skewed, Oct 04 2019

       //But then grey squirrels will be an endangered species//   

       No they won't, they'll always have America, but I like where you went with that.
Skewed, Oct 04 2019

       This idea is, alas, flawed.   

       We have changed dogs by selecting for traits which do not have advantages in the wild. This can be tested by, for example, putting 8 ShitZus and 8 wolves in the same enclosure for about 3 minutes.   

       The changes you are trying to make to the red squirrel, however, would be a definite advantage in the wild. Meaning that natural evolution is already doing its slow, pathetic best. You're not going to improve much on that, unless your captive population is wayyyy bigger than the (admittedly small and shrinking) wild population. For instance, natural selection in the wild will strongly favour any red that can beat disease or can eat a wider range of foods.   

       The most effective way to favour red squirrels is simply to shoot all the greys. There are only 2.5m of them, so it can't be that hard. Or we just might be able to find a virus to which they alone are susceptible.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 04 2019

       // putting 8 ShitZus and 8 wolves in the same enclosure for about 3 minutes. //   

       Yes, that was so sad. Why you chose to inflict such suffering on wolves is inexplicable.
8th of 7, Oct 04 2019

       It's not my fault. Who knew that ShitZus stick in wolves gullets like that?
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 04 2019

       Well, the Tzu know. It's one of their many survival tricks; leaping into the wolf's mouth - thus bypassing the teeth - and then eating the wolf from the inside out
8th of 7, Oct 04 2019

       And to the neighbour.   

       If it's really stealing your tomatoes, leave a small dish of sea salt out near the plants. Sea salt on tomatoes is irresistable, and the squirrel will probably die of hypertension.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 04 2019

       //When I was at school in the 70s//   

       Really? I thought the bounty was got rid of b4 then [Googles]. Yep it seems it was [linky] to have remembered that when at school you must have been in school in the 50s which would put you 'in' your 70s, right number but attributed to the wrong thing? if not then maybe you're mind's doing a mashup of school memories & things your parents told you.
Skewed, Oct 04 2019

       Maybe it's time for some de-extinction. In the miocene period, there was a species of squirrel that was over 4ft long, _not_ counting the tail. It had incisors over six inches long, and is believed to been carnivorous or partly so. They had serrated claws which wore against each other when the hand or foot was clenched, keeping them razor-sharp. They also had partially forward-facing eyes, giving them good depth perception.   

       They didn't have opposable thumbs, but they had a horny (no jokes, please) growth that could be used much like a thumb. They also had a disproportionately large brain. All in all, they were well on the way to becoming really evil bastards.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 04 2019

       It's always possible your locale council or parish brought in & funded their own scheme after the national one ceased.
Skewed, Oct 05 2019

       // Lincolnshire //   

       Ah yes, a dreary expanse of inexpertly-reclaimed mudflats useful only as a place to build really long runways for bombers, created in a desperate and only partially successful attempt to prevent Norfolk encroaching on habitable land, and where "Mr. & Mrs Potato Head" is schoolteacher jargon for parent's evening ...
8th of 7, Oct 05 2019

       Maybe you could build a giant wooden badger ... ?
8th of 7, Oct 08 2019


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