Thursday, October 4, 2012

Red squirrel populations wiped out in northern Italy

Scientists say there are no red squirrels in a 1,150 sq km area of Piedmont after invasive greys took hold in the region. On the edge of this large region, the species is also under threat from the incursions of grey squirrels.

 If the spread of the grey squirrel continues unchecked, the species could spread as far as France, the scientists fear.

 Grey squirrels were introduced into Italy relatively recently, in 1948. They were a gift from the US ambassador and kept in Turin, but escaped into the wild and rapidly colonized the surrounding area. 

 Grey squirrels are not only more aggressive than the native European red squirrel, which causes them to invade red-dominated areas and take over, but they also carry a deadly virus, the squirrel pox. While greys are largely immune to the virus, it is lethal to red squirrels, which typically die within one or two weeks of being infected.



Unknown said...

I would think the the local Animal Control would devise a plan to if not eliminate the gray squirrel at least decrease their population. Is there a vaccine for squirrel pox?

Roger J

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