Alien Invaders

British nature is changing. Some creatures that are at the forefront of traditional postcard-pictures are vanishing from sight, while other brand new species are making their homes within our shores. Some of these invaders have the potential to change entire ecosystems, and their appearance is far from welcome. However, these creatures are fast becoming the norm; an accepted, even loved part of our heritage.

Just how exactly do you successfully separate public care and affection between those species in need, and those potentially devastating new inhabitants? To many people, exterminating a species is something that goes against all our usual morals, and in the eyes of many, killing an animal, regardless of where it has come from is cruel, heartless and cold.

Yet the removal of these creatures in entirely necessary to preserve and protect our fundamental species. This battle is one commonly mentioned in the Grey Squirrel, an invader whose presence has all but eliminated the native Red, from many areas. A squirrel is a fundamentally emotive, engaging creature, regardless of its colour. By law, it is illegal to release a caught Grey Squirrel, its termination a legal requirement. This is easier said than done however, I doubt the majority of the public would be able to turn a blind eye. This battle is repeated across the UK, with similar battles being witness in everything from mussels, to crayfish, insects and birds. 32,000 rose-ringed parakeets are now believed to inhibit the Kingston area of London. These characters have become something of local celebrities, and much like a good curry or the phrases that make up some of most used language-a stranger being incorporated within our own society. These birds though are infamous for their total devouring of the fruits and berries that our own native creatures depend on, outcompeting some of our most loved species and threatening their existence.

There is no doubt that removing these alien species is crucial in order to protect and preserve our traditional British Wildlife. This challenge is, however, multifaceted, ever-changing and highly dynamic, and one that involves highly emotive opinions on both sides. Like many such battles, perseverance over public perception looks to be one of the biggest wars to overcome.

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Katie Appleby

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