Quick Tip for Deterring Squirrels from Bird Feeders

There’s no reason to take extreme measures if you have squirrels eating your plants.

Lightly spray bird feeders and bird seed with chili powder spray (sold at most gardening store in a bright red spray bottle) and that should do the trick.

Have other (humane) tips to keep squirrels away from bird feeders? Leave a comment. Gracias!

Endangered U.K. Red Squirrels Developing Immunity to Virus?

Finally, a bit of good news for the dwindling red squirrel population in the United Kingdom: They may be making a comeback, thanks to increasing immunity against a deadly squirrel pox virus.

We’ve been covering the red squirrel dilemma for a long time (which has involved slaughtering and eating grey squirrels so as to reduce their invasive population — they are immune to the virus) so any good news is a sight for sore squirrel bloggers’ eyes.

Squeamish Squirrel Lovers: Don’t Read This

As I’ve mentioned many times before, the U.K. is embroiled in a big squirrel controversy. The native red squirrels are being squeezed out by the grey squirrels, which were imported from the U.S.

There has been all sorts of suggested solutions to keep red squirrels from dying out, but this latest one is really taking it pretty far: A butcher is selling grey squirrel meat for about $6.82 a squirrel. Turns out people feel more ethical when eating grey squirrels, and it’s becoming quite popular.

“”I wasn’t sure at first and wondered how many people would really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on,” said David Ridley, who runs Ridley’s Fish and Game shop in Corbridge, Northumberland.  “I’ve had days when I’ve managed to get 60 of them and they sell straight away. Squirrel meat is moist and sweet because it’s diet has been berries and nuts.”

The meat, which is said to taste like a cross between lamb and duck, is also low in fat.

Read the full article, here: Big Demand for Squirrel Meat

Confessions of a Squirrel Lover

The Washington Post has a cute column this week from a squirrel rehabber.

“The first squirrel showed up at my window one May day 20 years ago, clutching a crust of bread. A few days later, he brought a bagel and some friends. Then I began feeding them, and countless squirrels since. Some had names, some didn’t. Some had broken paws, torn ears, stubby tails. A lot had babies. I’ve cried over the squirrels that foolishly crossed the street in front of heedless drivers. I buried a few.”

Click to read the full article: Scampering Away With My Heart

I’m Conflicted: Squirrels Used for Eye Research

I’ve been a journalist for close to 10 years, so it pains me to read this Badger Herald article on a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor who trapped ground squirrels and began breeding them for eye research. Apparently the eyes of ground squirrels are similar to humans, making them useful for opthamology (eye disease) research. But the article makes no mention of animal rights issues.

The National Eye Institute “will be investigating the mechanisms of neuroprotection and how the tissue of squirrel’s eye protects itself from damage.” Reading between the lines, this means that the squirrels’ eyes will have to be damaged in order to study the protective factors.

Sounds a bit like torture to me.

But the article fails to mention any sort of ethical issues here, leading me to only hope that the assumption is that of course they will treat the squirrels humanely and take steps to make sure the squirrels are given adequate pain control and do not suffer.

Note: While I am a huge animal lover (I have a squirrel blog, for gosh’s sake), I do recognize that human diseases would not be cured without the benefit of animal research. But it’s important that everyone — especially journalists, including college-aged journalists — make sure the tough questions are asked.

Just because it’s a person with a doctoral degree conducting the research, and just because it’s affiliated with a trustworthy organization like the National Eye Institute does not mean you can assume that the squirrels are safe from harm. Just as we would not want a smarter species landing on our planet and shipping us off for painful medical experiments, the ground squirrels do not want to be a part of this research. At the very least, we should make sure they don’t suffer.