16 NOVEMBER 1945, Page 16

A Squirrels' Duel

Signs that our native red squirrel is multiplying (as indicated in last week's notes) should be correlated with its past history. Just fifty years ago the species suffered from an infectious malady that wiped it out in a great many districts, though a few counties in the West Country escaped. It happened that just about the same date two American visitors, and later the Duke of Bedford and others, introduced the grey American squirrel, with disastrous effects. The new immigrant did—and does—a deal of harm and, though there is small evidence that it attacks the smaller red squirrel, it certainly queered the native's pitch. Allusions to this and a precise account of the many thousand grey squirrels that have been shot appear in Mr. Fitter's wholly admirable account of the natural history of the London area in "the New Naturalist" series.