Britain’s Grey Squirrel: The Solution to a Pest?
Britain is home to a wealth of wildlife. But not all of it is popular. Most notably perhaps is the Grey Squirrel, which continuously threatens Britain’s much loved Red Squirrel population. But new ideas have arisen, one of which has become popular with restaurant owners.
The Grey Squirrel. It steals those delicious strawberry jam sandwiches from that park bench on a beautiful summer’s day. It scares birds wherever it roams. It strips the bark from that garden tree – the bark that took decades to form.
Not a particularly glamorous description. But it is pure fact. The anti-social habits of the grey squirrel in Britain have outraged significant proportions of the population, especially in the North of England and Scotland. Not least because of the threat of extinction the greys pose to the innocent Red Squirrels.
In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel back into the wild after it has been caught. The basic solution is to trap and shoot the grey squirrel in the most humane way possible.
But restaurateurs are now working with conservationists to make sure that nothing is left to waste. They are using the grey squirrels in menus, making a wide variety of different meals with the grey’s succulent meat.
Caroline Davies, who writes for The Guardian’s online version of the newspaper, even went as far as saying that eating grey squirrel meat is “the ultimate ethical meal”.
And she’s absolutely right. It really is an ‘ethical’ meal. Not only would it help stabilise – possibly even solve – the issue of the Grey Squirrels’ threat to the Red Squirrel, but it would help to establish new trends in the marketplace. If successful, Grey Squirrels could become commonplace on the shelves of supermarkets. It is not an eccentric idea and is entirely plausible.
A village shop in Northumberland (County in the North of England), Ridley’s Fish and Game, was struggling to keep up with the demand for the meat earlier this year.
The owners, David and Carolyn Ridley, created a catchy slogan to promote the delicacy: “Eat a grey, save a red”.
The meat is so delicious that Ridley’s shop is now supplying the restaurant at Matfen Hall Hotel, a prestigious dining experience in Tyne & Wear.
Sweet – like lamb and duck – and succulent, maybe. But I definetely will not be eating grey squirrel meat any time soon. In fact, I am soon to become a vegetarian, thanks to the edibility of this creature.