Stop the greys' western march
Grey squirrels are perhaps no longer considered a headline news item but they are still busy destroying young oak, beech, sycamore and other trees throughout Ireland.
They are our woodland terrorists, waging their own private war on trees and to quote a well-known phrase -- "they haven't gone away, you know".
Just to remind readers of their continuing spread, last year marked 100 years since their introduction. In 1911, six pairs of breeding greys were released on the Castleforbes Estate in Co Longford.
Since then, the species has expanded in all directions, except westwards, where the River Shannon had appeared to form an obstacle. However, some unverified sightings have been recently reported in western counties.
As their populations have increased, we have seen a marked decline in the numbers of our native red squirrels, and studies haves shown that reds tend to disappear from an area within a decade or two of the arrival of the grey.
Greys carry the Squirrel Pox Virus (SQPV), which is lethal to the native reds, and there have been two cases of SQPV confirmed in Co Wicklow.
Red squirrels are now completely absent from Meath and Westmeath and are rare in the counties of Louth, Carlow and Kilkenny.
One well-known fact regarding greys is their ability to store large quantities of acorns in preparation for the winter.