With a dedicated administrative act, Emilia Romagna has decided to eliminate all the gray squirrels present in the region with gas (carbon dioxide). The rodents will be lured with special traps and eliminated immediately on the spot. The decision was made by virtue of the invasiveness of the species, which is not part of the native Italian fauna. But systematic extermination is not the only solution to the problem.
A specimen of gray squirrel
The Emilia Romagna Region has announced that it will start a program of eradication of the North American gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) throughout the territory. In simple terms, will catch e it will kill systematically – gassing them with thecarbon dioxide – all specimens of this rodent. The decision, born within the project EC-SQUARE already started by other Italian regions (Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont and Umbria), is linked to the fact that the gray squirrel it is not a native species, that is naturally present in Italian ecosystems, but it was introduced by man in the past to “beautify” parks and other urban green areas, without thinking about the consequences on ecosystem balances. The species is in fact considered among the hundred most invasive (in 85th place) in the world by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and causes significant ecological problems.
The gray squirrel primarily occupies the same ecological niche of our own common squirrel O red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and, since the American species is much more adaptable, resistant and enterprising, in many areas it has caused its disappearance, to the point of threatening entire populations. In addition to severely harming the red squirrel, the gray squirrel is held responsible for damage to the vegetation – the removal of bark from trees, for example, favors the spread of parasitosis and other diseases in plants – also causes damage to hazelnut crops and other species of animals, including some birds.
This situation is considered unacceptable by zoologists, ecologists and other natural conservation experts; It is no coincidence that for decades the eradication of American gray squirrels has been discussed, not only from Italy, but also from all the other European countries where they were introduced with recklessness and lack of foresight. Now, through the EC-SQUARE plan, in Emilia Romagna as elsewhere it has been decided to actively intervene by capturing and killing all the specimens sighted. As explained in the 15-page document “Implementation methods for the early detection and rapid eradication of the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Emilia-Romagna” published by the Region – you can consult it in PDF by clicking on the following link -, teams will be sent of 1 – 2 operators to monitor the areas where squirrels proliferate and proceed to the capture of the gray ones with special traps.
In France it will no longer be possible to chop male chicks alive: what is Italy waiting for?
The staff will leave traps without trigger in the identified area for fifteen days, in order to get the squirrels accustomed; subsequently it will alternate priming and disengaging cycles for the withdrawals. The traps will be checked twice a day to leave as little time as possible the animals caught inside them. The trapped specimens will come cataloged (weight, sex, rear foot size etc etc) e killed directly on site, gassing them with carbon dioxide. The squirrels will be “subjected to euthanasia on site, through the use of CO2, administered to the animals transferred in airtight containers of rigid plastic with a volume of 10 liters. The killing of animals captured by trapping must take place as quickly as possible from the moment of capture ”, reads the PDF document.
Net of the problems caused by these rodents, there is no doubt that we are facing one cruel practice which will lead to death a significant number of specimens for a “greater good”. As always, animals have no fault, but it is our wicked behavior that determines dramatic consequences for the environment. The extermination, however, it is not the only solution. In the United Kingdom, for example, where the same problem exists, it was decided to solve it in only without loss. Simply, the gray squirrels come sterilized through a oral medication given with a delicious nuts cream. Why not do the same thing with the specimens present in Italy? The gray squirrels, after all, are only trying to survive and of course they are not aware of the ecological damage they cause, determined only and only through our fault, exactly like that caused by cats to the detriment of wildlife. It is no coincidence that animal welfare organizations are pushing for the adoption of bloodless containment programs, without going through systematic extermination.