The gray squirrel may not be universally beloved in the back yards of U.S. homes, but no ire at bird feeder marauders matches the hatred the rodent engenders in England.
That's because in the U.K., it's squirrel versus squirrel, and the natives (humans, that is) are defending their native red squirrel against the invasion of gray squirrels from across the pond.
Red Squirrel Protection Partnership, Save Our Squirrels, the government and others are banding together against the invaders, sometimes by shooting, trapping and then smashing the heads of the grays, as the New York Times put it.
There are certainly U.S. gardeners who can sympathize, though none have gone so far as to form gangs to target gray squirrels.
The anecdote here illustrates the flip side of a familiar environmental issue: the spread of invasive species, also sometimes called biological pollution. Usually we hear about these species when they're messing up our landscape -- European starlings out-competing our native birds for nesting sites, or zebra mussels muscling out native clams in the Great Lakes, say. Invasive species are a top threat to the world's biodiversity, according to many conservationists, as global trade and travel evicerates borders, it invites a kind of homogenization of flora and fauna from continent to continent.
The gray squirrel reminds us that we produce as many invasive species as we begrudgingly accept.
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