by Don Corrigan
Funky Winkerbean’s cartoon creator, Tom Batiuk, is on a roll about squirrels. Hundreds of readers sent me his comic strips on squirrels. Actually, more than hundreds – enough people to fill up the National Mall on Inauguration Day!
Funky Winkerbean may be tickling people’s fancy with this comic squirrel subterfuge, but the actual truth about the American Gray Squirrel is no laughing matter. So, let’s get on it.
Headlines in Britain now are all about the Royals’ big crisis and strife involving the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s a hoax, folks. The headlines are a smokescreen. The stories should be about Prince Charles and his war against American Gray Squirrels. It’s a dirty little war. It has taken an ugly turn.
The Royals have had it out for U.S. grays ever since they arrived on their island and started advancing on the native red squirrels. The Brits asked for this. They brought some grays back with them after we chased their Redcoats back home in the Revolutionary War.
Prince Charles is a member of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, an organization intent on bringing the native red squirrels back into abundance and to destroying American Gray Squirrels. The Brits’ moves against the gray squirrels include traps, poisoning and culling.
In Cornwall, landowners put down poison bait in areas heavily inhabited by the gray squirrels to try to create “gray-free exclusion zones.” In Aberdeen, traps have been set along transit routes for migrating grays. Traps also have been put out in rural Northumberland. Once trapped, there is no quarter, no fair trial, for American grays – just certain death.
Animal Aid, a British animal rights organization that promotes cruelty-free lifestyles, has condemned the tactics of the Red Squirrel Survivalists. The latest tactic involves DNA editing technology to stop the grays from reproducing. The gene editing renders all future gray females sterile, regardless of the hopes and desires of the gray males.
Genome engineers say DNA editing could be applied to other UK “nuisance species,” such as muntjac deer and ring-necked parakeets. Jennifer White with People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is outraged. She says: Not so fast!
“Genetically engineering humans is morally unconscionable, and doing the same to squirrels using this gene-drive technology is just as reprehensible,” said White in a statement of protest.
I recently spoke to the erudite ladies of the College Club of St. Louis in Sunset Hills on my “Nuts About Squirrels” book tour. They shared my indignation about the “royal treatment” of gray squirrels, whose ancestors were fat and happy in their original American habitat.
They never asked to be transported to a land of Kings and Queens, Whigs & Tories, and a puffed-up Prince with the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. It’s time for all of us to stand up for the rights of our American Gray Squirrel.