How many times do we have to spell it out? Once more this month media stories abound of the imminent demise of the red squirrel in England. Thisissouthwales.co.uk squeals:
They’ve been doing well in Anglesey. But elsewhere red squirrels are having a rather tough time. According to new research, we will have lost them for good in just 10 years if we don’t do something now.
The unstoppable advance of the crazed grey invaders…?
The Times similarly pronounces:
…squirrel pox virus is so deadly to red squirrels that they are likely to die out in England within a decade unless the spread can be halted.
Please, give a it a rest with the doom and gloom – it’s not all bad news. The Isle of Wight, a part of England, has a healthy population of red squirrels. No projections show that population being compromised in the near future. The risk is always there, of course, but we are vigilant. The original research which sparked these stories, a modelling study led by Peter Lurz of the University of Newcastle, did not claim that red squirrels would be lost from England in ten years. Lurz and his collaborators are well aware of the Island squirrels. However, somewhere along the line, in the search for a more scary headline, the Isle of Wight has somehow been airbrushed from the picture that the majority of people get to see. Explain the necessity to take appropriate precautions to conserve mainland squirrels, by all means. But don’t overexaggerate the problem and particularly don’t consign the Island population to oblivion with sloppy editing.