Oral contraceptive hidden in Nutella the plan to reduce the number of grey squirrels in UK

Contraception: the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse.

Oral contraceptive (the pill): are hormonally active pills which are usually taken by women on a daily basis.

Currently there are almost 3.5 millions grey squirrels in the UK. They are not indigenous to the island, instead brought to the UK by US landowners in Victorian times. Over hundreds of years they have dominated over the domestic red squirrel and attacked broadleaf trees. Moreover the most significant threat associated with grey squirrels is the spread and transmission of a disease called squirrelpox virus (SQPV). It can take only one grey squirrel to introduce this virus to a local population of red squirrels and then the virus can spread throughout the reds with devastating effect.

The number of red squirrels is down at 140,000 and the hope with this oral contraceptive plan is to humanely limit the reproduction of grey squirrels so over the next five years their numbers drop to 300,000. The plan has made the headlines because of Prince Charles’ support of it. A tongue in cheek article by the Guardian reports on these sterilisation plans.


Should humans be meddling so much in animal numbers or should they leave nature to run its course? Do the grey squirrels have rights to be able to reproduce or should humans be intervening to save the red squirrels in the UK?

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