Grey Squirrel contraception: latest news on research

A research project designed to provide a contraceptive vaccine and a safe delivery system for use on greys is making progress. This is surely a preferable technique through which to reduce the problems they cause for both reds and timber-producers. The vaccine works well, but having to give it via bait results in significant degradation in the gut and weakens its impact, so part of this project is concerned with protecting the vaccine until it passes into the gut wall. This is all clever stuff, but there is also a need to design a feeding hopper that excludes everything other than greys because the vaccine is not species-specific: this presents a significant engineering challenge. So, it is going to take several more years to optimise solutions to these problems and then gain the necessary government approvals for use. At least until then and probably for longer still, we will have to hold the line by using the old- fashioned methods. In the end one suspects that a combination of trapping, shooting, contraception and pine martens could together provide a long-term solution in favour of reds (and timber production). If you want to know more about this research project, being led by Giovanna Massei at the Animal & Plant Health Agency, here is a recent slideshow.

Posted 22nd November 2018, by SouthS_Admin
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