Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Death to Squirrels!

Last year I decided to declare war on grey squirrels, so bought a humane trap. Grey squirrels were introduced to the UK in the 19th Century, and since then have spread steadily northwards, eliminating our native red squirrels as they went. I think they out-compete the reds, and also pass on diseases to which the reds have no resistance. I did know that once I'd caught one, I'd be legally obliged to kill it, since, as an imported alien, it would be illegal to release it. I know that one trap in the middle of England is not going to do much to save our red squirrels, but you have to do whatever you can.

I had the idea I might be able to eat them, since they're more or less vegetarian, so should tast nice, but once I'd caught the first, I decided there wouldn't be enough meat on one to be worth the effort required to prepare it. I caught another 3, but just put the bodies in the dustbin, and some time after that discovered that my wife didn't really like the idea of culling them, so put the trap away.

This spring, however, we saw a TV programme in which squirrel in a red wine sauce was described as delicious, and Jenny seemed less averse to the idea if we were going to eat the result, so out came the trap.

The first one I caught was a mature female, and after preparation, her back half weighed half a pound, which seemed to us like a decent portion for one. The other day I caught another, but sadly, this was a juvenile, and the equivalent part of his carcase weighed only a couple of ounces. They're both in the freezer, but the trap has been put away again as Jenny doesn't like the idea of catching babies. I don't entirely disagree, actually. I guess I have to wait until about August before trying again, so as to catch something a bit more mature.

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