Letter to the Editor of the New York Times Magazine

How utterly crass and revolting to see an article extolling the violent adventures of England’s Rupert Redesdale, hater of gray squirrels, whose pathology laid the foundation for an organization to shoot or trap and smash on the head every gray squirrel it can find (DT Max, The Squirrel Wars, 7 Oct.).

Redesdale loves red squirrels, not so much for themselves, but as a British icon. That would be mildly amusing, but for the torment it allows to be unleashed on another group of squirrels, who, through no fault of their own, were reportedly introduced to the British countryside when they were accidentally released, over 70 years ago, from the London Zoo.

Planting conifer trees is a saner way to help the red squirrels. Special food hoppers allow feeding by the lighter red squirrel and can also boost their population. Human error (partially British human error) caused the competition between squirrels in the first place, and human wisdom ought to be applied to devise sound responses.

With everyday violence on the rise in Britain, the last example that’s needed is a mission to beat squirrels into submission.


Priscilla Feral
President, Friends of Animals

New York Times Magazine

October 7, 2007
The Squirrel Wars

When you think of England, Rupert Redesdale is who you think of. He has a slanting forehead, a nose shaped like an adze and the pink face of an aristocrat from the Georgian era. But in fact his family is far older: it is one of five in Britain that can trace its roots directly back to William the Conqueror, the last successful invader of England, in 1066. “Our original name was Bertram,” he told me recently. “We were Normans.” Redesdale, a 40-year-old baron, can stand on a Northumberland hilltop and see the Rede Valley, with the Rede River running through it. He is able to say things like, “Our family had a castle in Mitford, but Robert the Bruce, the sod, knocked it down.”

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